8.1/10
16,276
60 user 54 critic

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Crime, Drama | 25 August 1988 (USA)
A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director:

Writer:

Watch Now

From $3.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
12 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Robert McNamara, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.

Director: Andrew Jarecki
Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Documentary | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

Director: Steve James
Stars: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A cinematic portrait of the life and career of the infamous American execution device designer and holocaust denier.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Fred A. Leuchter Jr., Robert Jan Van Pelt, David Irving
Documentary | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Stars: Tony Brooks, Diana Davis, Terry Wood
Grizzly Man (2005)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog
Documentary | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A documentary about a pet cemetery in California, and the people who have pets buried there.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Lucille Billingsley, Zella Graham, Cal Harberts
Documentary | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Werner Herzog, Richard Lopez, Michael Perry
Crime | Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Oscar-winning documentary that documents a murder trial in which a 15-year-old African-American is wrongfully accused of a 2000 murder in Jacksonville, Florida.

Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Stars: Ann Finnell, Patrick McGuinness, James Williams
The Imposter (2012)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A documentary centered on a young man in Spain who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.

Director: Bart Layton
Stars: Adam O'Brian, Nicholas Barclay, Carey Gibson
Documentary | Crime | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.

Directors: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Kharey Wise
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A further followup of the case of the West Memphis Three and the decades long fight to exonerate them that finally gained traction with new DNA evidence.

Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Stars: Gary Gitchell, Todd Moore, Dana Moore
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Randall Adams ...
Himself
David Harris ...
Himself
Gus Rose ...
Himself (Homicide Detective in Dallas)
Jackie Johnson ...
Herself (Homicide Detective in Dallas)
Marshall Touchton ...
Himself (Homicide Detective in Dallas)
Dale Holt ...
Himself (Internal Affairs Investigator in Dallas)
Sam Kittrell ...
Himself (Police Detective in Vidor)
Hootie Nelson ...
Himself (Friend of David Harris in Vidor)
Dennis Johnson ...
Himself (Friend of David Harris in Vidor)
Floyd Jackson ...
Himself (Friend of David Harris in Vidor)
Edith James ...
Herself (Defense Attorney)
Dennis White ...
Himself (Defense Attorney)
Don Metcalfe ...
Himself (The Judge)
Emily Miller ...
Herself (Surprise Eyewitness)
R.L. Miller ...
Himself (Surprise Eyewitness)
Edit

Storyline

Errol Morris's unique documentary dramatically re-enacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer's murder in Dallas, Texas. Briefly, a drifter (Randall Adams) ran out of gas and was picked up by a 16-year-old runaway (David Harris). Later that night, they drank some beer, smoked some marijuana, and went to the movies. Then, their stories diverged. Adams claimed that he left for his motel, where he was staying with his brother, and went to sleep. Harris, however, said that they were stopped by police late that night, and Adams suddenly shot the officer approaching their car. The film shows the audience the evidence gathered by the police, who were under extreme pressure to clear the case. It strongly makes a point that the circumstantial evidence was very flimsy. In fact, it becomes apparent that Harris was a much more likely suspect and was in the middle of a crime spree, eventually ending up on Death Row himself for the later commission of other crimes. Morris implies ... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A softcore movie, Dr. Death, a chocolate milkshake, a nosey blonde and "The Carol Burnett Show." Solving this mystery is going to be murder.


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 August 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

På en skör tråd  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Gross:

$1,209,846 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

David Harris: [asked if Randall Dale Adams is innocent] Did you ask him?
Errol Morris: Yes.
David Harris: What did he say?
Errol Morris: Well, he's always said he's innocent.
David Harris: There you go. You didn't believe him did you? Criminals always lie.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In memory of my brother Noel Ian Morris (1942-1983) See more »


Soundtracks

Metamorphosis
Written by Philip Glass
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Into The Thin Blue Line Of Fire
25 February 2007 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

And thus, Dallas County, Texas, in 1977, successfully prosecuted Randall Dale Adams, a lowly hitchhiker, for a crime Adams did not commit.

Adams was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1976 murder of a Dallas cop. "The Thin Blue Line", by Errol Morris, is a documentary that recounts this infamous case, by way of interviews and reenactments. It's the story of a terrible injustice, one that almost cost an innocent man his life.

What is so frightening is the fervor of Dallas officials to inflict the death penalty on someone ... anyone ... They weren't about to let the cop murder go unpunished. Adams was the most convenient target. Eventually, the truth would come out. But Adams would spend twelve years in prison, some of those years on death row. After his release, Adams never received any monetary compensation, or even an apology, from the State Of Texas, for that injustice. Interestingly, more than one Dallas County official associated with the Adams case was also associated with the aftermath of the JFK assassination, thirteen years earlier.

Morris' documentary would have been easier to follow had it had subtitles, to indicate the name of the person being interviewed. Also, some of the film's material consisted of irrelevant flashback footage and repetitive reenactments. Further, the narrative presentation was at times confusing. Nevertheless, the main issue here is the powerful true-life story.

If you can get around the technical weaknesses of this film, "The Thin Blue Line" is a gripping documentary about a real life case of American injustice, in a city that is notorious for its history of botched criminal investigations.


13 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I am livid and scared as hell anxs
Anti Death Penalty?? wrg6
what i dont get nbafreak93
Crucial factor that I feel is missing... (Can someone explain?) tdsada001
Another documentary about racist cops whose case falls apart in court phantom_tollbooth
What became of the female officer? firemanbob
Discuss The Thin Blue Line (1988) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page