8.1/10
16,020
60 user 53 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 | 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 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
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
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 | 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
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Early Errol Morris documentary intersplices random chatter he captured on film of the genuinely eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida. A few examples? The preacher giving a sermon on the ... See full summary »

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Albert Bitterling, Roscoe Collins, George Harris
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
Tabloid (2010)
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A documentary on a former Miss Wyoming who is charged with abducting and imprisoning a young Mormon Missionary.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Joyce McKinney, Peter Tory, Troy Williams
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

In 2008, "Variety" credited the film as "the most political work of cinema in the last 20 years". See more »

Quotes

Randall Adams: You have a D.A, he doesn't talk about when they convict you, or how they convict you. He's talking about how he's going to kill ya. He don't give a damn if you're innocent, he don't give a damn if you're guilty. He's talking... about killing ya.
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

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Monster A-Go Go (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Metamorphosis
Written by Philip Glass
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Subject matter vs. presentation
7 September 2004 | by (Milwaukee, WI) – See all my reviews

Having seen two other Errol Morris documentaries, I expected that there would be a Philip Glass soundtrack, some flashy camera work, and perhaps some reenactments during 'The Thin Blue Line'. I have long struggled with my opinions on Morris' work, mainly because I am more of a purist when it comes to documentaries. I want to see footage, photographs, interviews, etc. that are going to back up a strong story, not a lot of camera angles, stark white backgrounds, and a post-modernist score.

'The Thin Blue Line' had the latter presentation, so I immediately was slightly turned off – until the subject of the film was presented. The location is Dallas, and it is the 1970's. Late one night, a squad car pulls over a car that does not have its lights on, but as soon as the policeman reaches the driver's side door, he is shot several times and murdered. The car pulls away before the policeman's partner is able to ascertain the license plate number or even the exact make and model of the vehicle. What follows is a veritable witch hunt for the killer (or killers) that ends with one man in jail who is professing his innocence, and another man, a career criminal who gets away veritably scot-free. Through various interviews with the players involved; detectives, alleged eye-witnesses, the accused themselves, Morris seeks to find out the truth in a case that comes down to a 'he-said/he-said' situation.

'The Thin Blue Line' is expert film-making in the investigative sense. Morris does his job in presenting as many facts as possible. The case finally came to a head a couple of years after the film was finished, but it is documented as being instrumental in the reexamination of the facts. I still don't necessarily care for Morris' style, but it cannot be argued that 'The Thin Blue Line' is an excellent documentary, and that he definitely has an eye for picking very compelling subjects.

--Shelly


16 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I am livid and scared as hell anxs
what i dont get nbafreak93
Anti Death Penalty?? wrg6
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