Like Elvis or Cher, the title Patsy & Loretta needed only their first names. Even those of us not deep into country music recognize the legendary Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Always looking for quality content, I first chanced upon My Best Friend Anne Frank. Although acutely aware of the outcome, the true story from a different perspective, that of best friend Hannah Goslar, was too good to pass up. Alas, the Dutch drama was so slow, so cryptic in its presentation, I only lasted 45 minutes into the Netflix flick. Fortunately, my second option was Patsy & Loretta.
If Patsy & Loretta looks like a Lifetime movie, that’s because it is, aired in 2019 and now on Netflix. They only knew each other for eighteen months, yet became fast and endearing friends. I’ve never seen A Coal Miner’s Daughter for which Sissy Spacek won the Oscar for Best Actress portraying Ms. Lynn known as the First Lady of Country Music. For that matter, I knew even less about Patsy Cline, the first female inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and one of the first country music artists to cross over into the pop charts. In other words, I found Patsy & Loretta less filling. I needed more on both. I give the film 3.0 Gavels and it receives a 6.8/10 IMDb score.
In a hospital bed recovering from a car crash, Patsy Cline hears Loretta Lynn dedicate a song to her recovery. She invites Lynn to the hospital and begins a friendship and mentorship that will last until the end of her life, tragically in a plane crash eighteen months later. Married at age 14, Lynn had little formal education and a controlling husband. Not only did Lynn need advice on contracts, Cline assisted with makeup, clothes, and confidence. Certainly, Cline knew what Lynn was about to experience.
For aficionados of the NBC hit show Smash, you will immediately recognize Megan Hilty who appeared opposite Debra Messing (The Dark Divide) and Katherine McPhee (Runner-up American Idol 5). Besides her many nominations for performances on Broadway, her Patsy Cline presentation garnered a nomination for Best Actress in a TV movie at the 10th Critics’ Choice Television Awards. Similarly appreciated on Broadway, Jessie Mueller (The Post) plays Loretta Lynn and likewise received the same Best Actress nomination by the same group.
In a different time, Patsy Cline tells her soon-to-be second husband, “there are two things I want in this world, babies and hit records.” In recognition of their friendship, Lynn named one of her six children for Patsy. The best scene in Patsy & Loretta may be Cline refusing to allow Lynn to sing until she is paid up front and in cash.
“Patsy & Loretta compresses 18 months of a tragically brief friendship between two country music legends into one pretty good biopic.” Chicago Tribune
“As grand as the Oscar-winning Coal Miner’s Daughter was, as underrated as its Patsy Cline companion picture Sweet Dreams remains, you had to figure that we weren’t seeing the hard knocks reality of their married lives, one of the things that bonded the established star with the rawboned newcomer in the Nashville of the early ’60s.” Movie Nation
For a true story, choose My Best Friend Patsy Cline/Loretta Lynn over Anne & Hannah. Not a great film, but you will hear some great songs from yesteryear.