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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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Writer:

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12 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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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)
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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:

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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)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was rejected by the Oscars for Best Documentary category in 1989 because it was considered to be a fictional film due to its scripted content. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Featured in The Making of 'A Brief History of Time' (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Metamorphosis
Written by Philip Glass
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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.


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