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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.



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12 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Randall Adams ...
David Harris ...
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)


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


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


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 August 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

På en skör tråd  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,209,846 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


While marketing the film Harvey Weinstein, head of Miramax Films,, declared, "Never has Miramax had a movie where a man's life hangs in the balance". See more »


Melvyn Carson Bruder: Prosecutors in Dallas have said for years - any prosecutor can convict a guilty man. It takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent man.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Drawings from the Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test © 1946, American Orthopsychiatric Association Inc. and Lauretta Bender, M.D. See more »

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User Reviews

An astonishing look at the criminal justice system.
27 January 1999 | by (Ames, Iowa) – See all my reviews

Along with 1996's Paradise Lost, The Thin Blue Line should be mandatory viewing for those who believe that the criminal justice system eventually convicts only the guilty. It is a stark and shocking look at one man behind bars and the truckloads of evidence that point toward his innocence. Documentarian Errol Morris indirectly argues that, at the very least, this evidence should have presented a "reasonable doubt" to the jury, and near the end of the movie, the audience has little choice but to accept his unbelievable findings. And the film ends with a single scene of just a tape recorder and voices that should be recognized as one of the most powerful endings to a movie, ever. A documentary masterpiece.

32 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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I am livid and scared as hell anxs
Anti Death Penalty?? wrg6
what i dont get nbafreak93
Another documentary about racist cops whose case falls apart in court phantom_tollbooth
What became of the female officer? firemanbob
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