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The Thin Blue Line (1988)

8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 11,144 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 55 user | 42 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

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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Title: The Thin Blue Line (1988)

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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 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 August 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

På en skör tråd  »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,209,846 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 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

Sam Kittrell: David thought that the one that was really at fault that night was the guy that got killed. He said, "That guy's crazy. He came after me with a gun." I told him, "David, you'd broken into his house, you abducted his girlfriend, what was he supposed to do?" He said, "Man shouldn't come out with a gun. That dude's crazy. He should have been killed."
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 50 Greatest Documentaries (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great documentary experience
21 August 2002 | by See all my reviews

Regarding the issue of manipulation, lets face it people, all documentaries are manipulative - every documentary filmmaker is attempting to make a point, whether or not they care to admit it. It is the documentaries that give the impression of being "objective" that are, in fact, the most manipulative. In the case of "The Thin Blue Line" the purpose of the documentary is clear, and the viewer is not tricked into believing that they are watching something objective. Instead, it is quite upfront about its purpose, and therefore is a much more honest piece of work. People should never accept anything they see in a documentary as fact, it's important to understand that documentaries are simply an attempt to present the director's perspective of a real-life situation. It is the great documentaries that present their perspective in a convincing manner, and do so without boring the viewer to sleep. Here "The Thin Blue Line" succeeds very well: it is powerful, it is engaging, and it's extremely convincing. Does that mean that everyone should be convinced? Lets hope not. However, it certainly should give everyone something to think about.

The only real problem with the film is its over-use of re-enactments where they are not really that necessary. For example, there is an image of a clock, representing the futility of time, which is too long for its own good. The milkshake scene was also (intentionally)annoying. However, this is a minor problem, and not one that should bother most people. Overall: great film, and highly recommended.


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