6 user 3 critic

The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania (2005)

In this documentary, Sarah Rush takes us back to the coal-mining town of her youth -- Carmichaels, Penn., population: 556. At the 50th anniversary of the Coal Queen Pageant in August 2003, ... See full summary »


Jody Eldred, David Hunt


David Hunt




Credited cast:
Norrell Moore Norrell Moore ... Self
Andrea Patrick Andrea Patrick ... Self
Sarah Rush ... Narrator


In this documentary, Sarah Rush takes us back to the coal-mining town of her youth -- Carmichaels, Penn., population: 556. At the 50th anniversary of the Coal Queen Pageant in August 2003, we're introduced to 14 young ladies who are vying for the coveted crown. Written by Raveen87

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Not everybody's idea of film, but it might just hook you with its positive message about rural America
31 July 2008 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

From the outset, I understand that documentaries, in general, are NOT everyone's cup of tea. Plus, this sort of film would probably not be appreciated even by many of those out there that do occasionally watch documentaries--as this one is rather dry. This does NOT mean that I disliked the film or that it was a bad film--it's just a style that many would not be particularly fond of or seek out on their own.

I also noticed a bit of controversy among the reviews in that some loved the film and one reviewer thought the film was offensive by making these rural folks stupid. However, I really don't think that was the intent of the film makers, or if it was, it sure was subtle!! I see the film as more in a long tradition of rural documentaries, such as Louis Malle's GOD'S COUNTRY, which seek to document this seldom talked about way of life. While some might THINK all the people in the film are all rubes,I thought they were decent folk and was surprised that the girls in the competition were actually rather talented. Perhaps some people might have seen a parallel with another film, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS--a "mockumentary" that did make fun of country folk. The nastiness and killings in DDG were really over-the-top and shouldn't be confused with this film. The folks of this little coal town came off as decent, very hard working and the girls very sweet--without the clichés (such as back-biting) you might expect. This was, in my opinion, a POSITIVE view of rural America, as the basic goodness was apparent even if they weren't as "sophisticated" as some other parts of the country.

There were a lot of interesting interviews and vignettes, but to me the most interesting was the interview with Fabian (yes, THAT Fabian) who now lives in Coal Country. His perspectives on rural life versus the time he spent in Hollywood were fascinating and really hit home the fundamental value of rural people.

There are a few final things I got from the film I'd like to point out in conclusion. One is that I have always hated all beauty pageants, as they seem very old fashioned and shallow. However, this film mediated these feelings in me and for once, I could actually see some benefit for them--especially with these girls. Two is that I have met MANY audiovisual experts like the one in this film. They are often "snippy" during the rehearsals and the girls universally hating them is common everywhere! Three is that Sarah Rush seems like the happiest person on the planet!

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Release Date:

16 October 2005 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Pittsburgh ,Pennsylvania, USA See more »


Box Office


$350,000 (estimated)
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