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Sweet Dreams More at IMDbPro »

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23 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Memorable Performances Off-Set A Soaper Script

Author: gftbiloxi ( from Biloxi, Mississippi
8 April 2005

Reality is generally more complicated than any motion picture can possibly convey--and such is the case with SWEET DREAMS, the 1985 bio-pic of singer Patsy Cline, which ran into a firestorm of criticism at the time of its release. For Patsy Cline was not a figure from the remote past. She and her life were extremely well recalled by family, friends, and co-workers, and one and all attacked the film as an extremely inaccurate portrait of her, her husband Charlie, and her life and career.

To a certain extent, the validity of these complaints about the film are a matter of opinion. But it does seem likely that the script softened Cline's harder edges and over-emphasized the stormy nature of her marriage in order to cast her in the role of victim. What isn't opinion is the way the film treats her career: it didn't happen like that, and while the film presents her as a great star at the time of her death in truth she had released only a handful of widely distributed records by 1963--and while some of them were big hits, they weren't quite as big as you might think. Even the celebrated "Sweet Dreams" never made it to the top spot on any music chart, and it was not until well after her death that she received full recognition for her remarkable work.

So instead of truth, or even a good approximation of it, SWEET DREAMS gives us the legend, the folk tale of the rough-and-tumble girl with the big, emotional voice who came from no where, married an abusive husband, and leaped into stardom that was cut short by an untimely death. And as legend, the film works very well.

The weak point of the film is the script, which plays largely to a "domestic drama" aspect and tends to smooth out the characters in a "santized for your protection" sort of way. The direction and cinematography are no great shakes either, and ultimately SWEET DREAMS looks very much like a made-for-television movie. But the cast carries it off in fine style. Jessica Lang looks no more like Patsy Cline than I do, and her lip-scynchs to Cline's work is rather hit-and-miss, but she gives a truly memorable performance; Ed Harris equals her in the role of husband Charlie, and together they create a synergy that has tremendous power. The supporting cast is also quite good, with Ann Wedgeworth a standout in the role of Cline's mother Hilda.

And then there is that soundtrack. Even if you've heard all these songs a thousand times, they're still worth hearing again. Patsy Cline was truly an amazing artist. But the film does something odd with them: the bulk of the story is set during the 1950s, but there is not a 1950s-era Cline vocal to be heard in the entire film, everything is taken from her glory years at MCA between 1960 and 1963. And very often it seemed to me that the original scoring of Cline's songs had been replaced with new arrangements.

And that, ultimately, is rather typical of the film as a whole. Just a little change here, just a little inaccuracy there, and while they all seem slight individually, they add up to a fairly significant distortion collectively. The performances make it worth watching, and they bring it in at a solid four stars. But if you're expecting anything more than the glossy legend of Patsy Cline, you won't find it here.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Standard retelling of country/pop legend Patsy Cline, uplifted by wondrous Jessica Lange.

Author: gbrumburgh ( from Los Angeles, California
10 May 2001

Biopics are always a difficult nut to crack. It's never easy to condense the bigger-than-life story of a legendary celebrity into a two-hour movie and still provide the viewer a complete feeling of satisfaction. What it needs to do is not only highlight the well-known peaks and valleys of their career and personal life, but then, and most importantly, write choice, definitive scenes that will flesh out and humanize the character.

Chronicling the life of a famous country singer is especially tricky. So many things can go wrong. Severe miscasting, a hokey, superficial story line, an overly glossy, sanitary, and/or inaccurate treatment of the source. Many of these gals have had their hard-knock life stories laid out. Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Dottie West, Tammy Wynette, Barbara Mandrell. The best of the film pickings is assuredly 1980's "Coal Miner's Daughter," Loretta Lynn's backwoods tale. And, fair or not, everything similarly produced since has been up for comparison. Thus, "Sweet Dreams," the retelling of country and pop superstar Patsy Cline (1932-1963), had a lot going against it by the time of its release, which was only five years after "Coal Miner's Daughter." Not only identical in heartache and rags-to-riches narrative, Patsy and Loretta Lynn were actually sisters at heart. They KNEW each other. And so, well, I'm surprised this biography came off as well as it did.

"Sweet Dreams" would be relatively fine on its own but it suffers in comparison to you-know-what. Shorter in scope, detail and focus, it is the star performances that rise above the conventional material here and earns what respect it gets. Patsy the Star is short-shrifted here, electing to concentrate more on Patsy the Woman and her stormy off-stage love life. Not necessarily a wrong decision, it's just that the execution lacks that creative spark. Despite the use of Cline's original soundtrack (superbly lip-synched here by Lange) to a number of her greatest hits ("Crazy," "Walkin' After Midnight" and the title tune), the movie rests on the fact that you already KNOW Patsy Cline became a BIG, BIG star. It doesn't capture the magic and electricity of Patsy that made her the star she was.

Jessica Lange is absolutely luminous as Patsy. She does her proud. Neglecting Kline's entire childhood, the film begins with her in the mid-50s, weighed down by a stalled career and a benign, boring husband. Lange captures the essence and spirit of the feisty, indomitable Cline. Like a restless stallion, she breaks free and shakes up her life, tangling with a reckless, kick-ass cowboy who she hopes will put the twang back in her life. With Charlie Dick (played with macho flair by Ed Harris), Patsy gets much more than she bargained for. With a last name like "Dick," you know this is going to be a fightin' man with a short-trigger. The virile, blue-eyed Harris is the perfect tough-and-tumble co-star. He's so damn good when he's bad, and sexy to boot. He does more than justice to the real Charlie, who had little of Harris' charisma. The two stars show real chemistry here and it ends up being the film's strongest suit.

In support, Ann Wedgeworth as Patsy's careworn mom (remember her from "Three's Company?") finally drops the tawdry, superficial "Mrs. Robinson" stereotype she's done way too much of, and offers us a deeply-felt portrayal of a quiet, strongly spiritual down-home woman who stands behind her girl through thick or thin. Basically a stage actress, this is Wedgeworth's finest film role to date. Meanwhile, John Goodman gives us another broad, healthy dose of comedy relief as Harris' brawling bar buddy, while P.J. Soles offers her cushiony 'other slutty girlfriend' routine.

But, alas, "Sweet Dreams" has been done before...and better Potential female country singing star marries lusty, hard-drinking ne'er-do-well. The wife becomes a big success. The dirty dog slides into his lyin', cheatin' ways. They fight. They make up. And over again. It offers no new or unique approach to the standard female slogan, "Can't live with him, can't live without him."

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Ode to a Country Music Diva!

Author: MickeyTo from Toronto, Canada
6 February 2000

If Loretta Lynn could have a movie made about her life story, and if Kenny Rogers could make several TV movies out of one cheesy album, then it only makes sense that a film about the life and times of country great Patsy Cline should be up there as well. Sweet Dreams is a fitting tribute to this timeless star.

Jessica Lange plays the sharp tongued crooner, in a bio pic that takes us from her upcoming days as a bored housewife, to one of Nashville's biggest sensations. As the film opens Patsy is bored and ready to leave a failed marriage. She meets up with lady-killer Charlie Dick (played by Ed Harris) and their torrid romance begins.

As their love affair takes off, so does Patsy's career. She is a hit on a national talent show, which gives her to platform from which to launch her music career. From there she stops everything to have children and take on life as an army wife.

Still unsatisfied, Patsy goes back to making music and meets up with a producer who feels her true talent lies in making ballads. They hook up and the rest is history.

Sweet Dreams is a slow-moving, but well made little film. Lange carries the story, sinking her acting chops into a loud, showy role, quite different from most of her other work. Ed Harris plays well too as the womanizing husband, jealous of his wife's success.

The film covers all of Patsy's highlights from 1956 right through to the devastating plane crash that took her life in 1962. One disappointment was the fact that the film put Patsy's career in the shadows, referring to it only between commentary about her romance with Charlie Dick. The film rarely takes the opportunity to explore the phenomenon that Patsy Cline became in such a short time.

Fans of Cline might be disappointed with Sweet Dreams, but Lange fans can be rest assured that this is one of her best performances. Brassy, bold and sexy, she is the one to watch!

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Love Not Faded For Miss Patsy Cline

Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
20 May 2007

As a cinematic biography of country/western singer Patsy Cline, "Sweet Dreams" is fairly good. The story takes place mostly in the 50s and 60s during which time she had already begun singing in local honky-tonks. The film's plot is straightforward and easy to follow. Production design is excellent. Overall acting quality is credible, with good performances from Jessica Lange as Patsy Cline; reliable Ed Harris as Patsy's redneck husband, Charlie Dick; and wonderful Ann Wedgeworth as Patsy's mother. Profuse country/western music helps make the film even more enjoyable, though I wish they could have found a spot in the film for "Faded Love", one of Cline's most popular songs.

Patsy was talented, ambitious, frustrated, determined, and outgoing. Charlie Dick comes across in the film as a jerk. And my main complaint about this film is that too much time is spent on him, rather than on Patsy and her career. The film's climax is not entirely consistent with known facts; but it is very dramatic.

"Sweet Dreams" will appeal to older viewers, as well as to those who like country/western music. And, of course, being a biography, the film will appeal to viewers who like real life stories.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

three great performances make a fine film

Author: Joseph Harder from warren michigan
8 May 2001

I will say at the onset that I thought Beverly D"Angelo was a slightly better Patsy Cline least, she looked more like Patsy, who was fairly Rubenesque in real life. Still, Jessica Lange captures the sassy, spunky, bawdy spirit of the great Cline. Ed Harris ( always superb) is wonderful, capturing Charlie Dicks tender side, as well as the time when he acted like, like , well, a dick.Anne Wedgeworth, a fine under-used actress was good as Patsy's mother. In short, one of the few good "Country" movies ever made.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

One of the best movie biographies made.

Author: ( from Fargo, North Dakota
22 February 2004

I have watched this movie at least 30 times. Patsy Cline is one of my absolute favorite country singers, as I grew up in the 50's and she was both a pop and country chart topper. I also grew up in northern Minnesota, so when a fellow Minnesotan played the role of Patsy, I had to see this movie. Jessica Lange was dynamic in portraying Patsy as someone who "just wanted to make things right". The other actors in the movie also deserved oscar nominations along with Jessica, as they completed this story. This movie is being shown a lot lately on HBO, TNT, CMT, and AMC. I highly recommend it.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

finally a film that displays the tragic life of Patsy Cline

Author: princess8201 from oklahoma usa
2 September 2001

I thought this movie was great. I caught it on TNT and fell in love with the characters. Jessica Lange and Ed Harris portray Patsy and Charlie so well you feel like you are a part of her success and tragic death. It rivals "Coal Miners Daughter" in the telling of country greats. I recommend this for anyone who would like to see Jessica Lange at her best.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

sweet and not sour

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
20 April 2006

In one of filmdom's many biopics, Jessica Lange sinks her teeth into the role of country singer Patsy Cline. We see her go from a bored housewife to a national phenomenon over the period of a few short years before tragically getting killed in a plane crash in 1963 (although the movie focuses more on her personal life than on her career). Not surprisingly, Lange plays the role perfectly. Equally good is Ed Harris as Cline's philandering husband Charlie Dick. "Sweet Dreams" is a movie that has something for everyone. Maybe we wonder how many biopics there can be, but that would miss the point. The point is to understand these people's personal struggles and all. And this movie does a very good job showing that. I wonder whether country music biopics will see a resurgence, now that "Walk the Line" has made a splash.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

"The Best One Yet"

Author: bpatters from Neosho, Missouri
16 December 2001

For those of you that thought "Sweet Dreams" was a stupid movie, well that's fine, but not in my opinion. "Sweet Dreams" tells a story, one of the greatest stories imaginable, I mean yeah it's not no fairy tale, but the life of The Legendary Patsy Cline is a very warm-hearted story to tell. I just saw the movie on VH1 about 3 months ago, I was messing with some things around the house and could not watch a lot of it. But, then about a mounth later it came on CMT and I finally watch it in it's entirity. I loved it so much I ordered it on DVD. It's just very neat how are these stars like Roy Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Barbra Mandrell, and Patsy Cline can pave the way to stardom easy for new country stars like Martina Mcbride, Jo Dee Messina, and Kenny Chesney, and to make a movie like "Sweet Dreams" that tells a story about one of these people is very Sweet and I give an applause to Hollywood for making it. I also give "Sweet Dreams" two thumbs up, I mean I'm not no Roger Ebert, but, I know a good movie when I see one, and this one is to good not to miss. Jessica Lange gives a awesome performance of Patsy Cline, not to mention Ed Harris as her dim-witted husband Charlie Dick. With all the crap that Patsy has to put up with, like her car crash, or that she's pregnant, she stll makes it to stardom with her hit song "Crazy". Also, speaking of songs Jessica Lange did an awesome jod of lip-syncing them. Out of "Great Balls of Fire", "La Bamba", and, "Coal Miner's Daughter", "Sweet Dreams"- (Jessica Lange & Ed Harris)The Legendary Story OF Patsy Cline is, The Best one Yet.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Sweet Dreams, sweet acting

Author: peters159-1 from United States
13 July 2006

I just watching Sweet Dreams again and am still happy to see good acting. God knows that in today's market good acting - in the caliber of Jessica Lange - and good scripts and high production values are sorely missing so it's always a treat when all one has to do is pull out the DVD, sit back, and enjoy. I've read other posts about this film and can only say that the producer's approach to the singer was what the picture needed. Perhaps Miss Clines early singing and rise in country music was just too mundane or had been done too much before to make this story work. I liked his approach which dealt only with her close relationship with her husband, Charlie Dick. Needless to say but both Jessica Lange and the always dependable Ed Harris did an excellent job with their roles and we got carried away with their love affair. Sure, he was an abusive husband and probably a woman chaser but then Patsy Cline was no saint herself and as she pointed out in the film she and Charlie deserved each other. She thought they made an excellent pair. Naturally Hollywood glamorized their relationship as this was a romantic film. Some posters have pointed out that they found fault with Miss Lange having to lip-sync Patsy Clines original recordings but I found that refreshing as, after all, the story was about Patsy Cline and not about some talented amateur actress. And as for lip-sync, one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the 40's did just that. Rita Hayworth's actual voice was never used in her musicals, and she and her studio built her reputation on musicals, but she pulled in huge audiences who loved to look at this glamorous woman (not)singing in Tonight and Every Night, Down to Earth and the 20th Century Fox musical My Gal Sal. No one cared that she didn't sing. Ann Blyth who was an excellent soprano was engaged by MGM for their version of The Helen Morgan Story but used Gogi Grant's voice, why? because at that moment in time Miss Grant was a popular recording artist. What made that experiment misfire was that Helen Morgan was closer to Ann Blyth's voice. Ava Gardner made quite a few musicals where her voice was dubbed, she didn't like the process and refused to do anymore musicals where she couldn't use her own voice; she refused The Helen Morgan Story. It's nice that some screen actresses think that their voices are professional enough to get by in films but after looking at these films one has to concede that a true professional voice was the way to go. an good example of this is I'll Cry Tomorrow starring Susan Hayward, Miss Hayward insisted on using her own voice in the MGM film and although her acting was top notch, which was expected, she still sounded like the amateur she was. That film could have used a good professional voice. Anyway, I thought that Jessica Lange did an outstanding job as an actress in Sweet Dreams but was glad to hear Patsy Cline's voice. This technique was used to advantage in Piaf: The Early Years, you got to see a good story with a good actress but you also got to hear the glorious singing from the world renowned singer. It's like getting two for one. Sweet Dreams deserved more than it got by reviewers and audiences. A film that did exactly what it set out to do. Worth watching again, and again.

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