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The Thin Blue Line
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The Thin Blue Line (1988) More at IMDbPro »

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The Thin Blue Line -- In 1976, Randall Adams was wrongly sentenced to death for the murder of a Dallas policeman. Errol Morris' stunning documentary exposed the truth of the case and is credited with overturning Adams' conviction.

Overview

User Rating:
8.1/10   14,338 votes »
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Release Date:
25 August 1988 (USA) See more »
Tagline:
A softcore movie, Dr. Death, a chocolate milkshake, a nosey blonde and "The Carol Burnett Show." Solving this mystery is going to be murder.
Plot:
A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
13 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Stunning depiction of a gross miscarriage of justice See more (60 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
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)
Elba Carr ... Herself (Employee at Fas-Gas)
Michael Randell ... Himself (Third Surprise Eyewitness)
Melvyn Carson Bruder ... Himself (Appellate Attorney)
Adam Goldfine ... Randall Adams (Re-Enactments)
Derek Horton ... David Harris (Re-Enactments)
Ron Thornhill ... Robert Wood (Re-Enactments)

Marianne Leone ... Teresa Turko (Re-Enactments)
Amanda Caprio ... Popcorn Lady (Re-Enactments)
Michael Nicoll ... Interrogation Officer (Re-Enactments)
Michael Cirilla ... 2nd Interrogation Officer (Re-Enactments)
Phyllis Rodgers ... Stenographer (Re-Enactments)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Errol Morris ... Himself (Interviewer) (voice) (uncredited)

Directed by
Errol Morris 
 
Writing credits
Errol Morris 

Produced by
Brad Fuller .... associate producer
David Hohmann .... assistant producer
Lindsay Law .... executive producer
Mark Lipson .... producer
Gary McDonald .... producer: prison interview
 
Original Music by
Philip Glass 
 
Cinematography by
Robert Chappell (director of photography)
Stefan Czapsky (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Paul Barnes 
 
Production Design by
Ted Bafaloukos 
 
Art Direction by
Lester Cohen 
 
Makeup Department
Theo Mayes .... key hair stylist: Bruno Le Salon (as Theodore Mayes)
Theo Mayes .... key makeup artist: Bruno Le Salon (as Theodore Mayes)
 
Production Management
Shelley Houis .... production manager
Steven Stoke .... unit manager
 
Art Department
Christine Cornell .... courtroom drawings
Daniel Talpers .... assistant art director
Pamela Woodbridge .... property master
 
Sound Department
Steve C. Aaron .... additional production sound (as Steven Aaron)
James Allen .... dialogue editor
Blaise Dupuy .... assistant sound engineer
Brad Fuller .... sound
Miles Green .... sound recording engineer
Jaime Kibben .... dialogue editor (as Jamie Kibban)
Jeff Kliment .... sound effects editor
Jack Leahy .... sound re-recording mixer
Samuel Lehmer .... sound effects editor
Samuel Lehmer .... sound re-recording mixer
Sheila McFarland .... sound assistant
Marnie Moore .... sound assistant
Larry Oppenheimer .... sound assistant
Leslie Shatz .... additional sound effects
Randy Thom .... sound re-recording consultant
Mel Zelniker .... additional re-recordist
 
Special Effects by
Matt Vogel .... special effects
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Michael C. Blundell .... best boy (as Mike Blundell)
Ned Burgess .... additional photographer
Mel Cannon .... second electric
Philippe Carr-Forster .... additional photographer (as Philip Carr-Forster)
Tim Chin .... grip
Mary Cybulski .... second assistant camera
Kenny Davis .... key grip
Mike DePrez .... second electric (as Michel Deprez)
Joseph Dianda .... grip (as Joe Dianda)
John Geisler .... gaffer
Richard Kamper .... assistant camera
Michael J. Latino .... first assistant camera (as Mike Latino)
Sally Roy .... assistant camera
Newton Thomas Sigel .... additional photographer (as Tom Sigel)
Peter Sova .... additional photographer
David Waterston .... assistant camera
 
Animation Department
Randall Balsmeyer .... animation designer
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Elizabeth Hickox .... wardrober
 
Editorial Department
Vida Fitzgerald .... editorial intern
Joseph Horowitz .... editorial consultant
Brian Katkin .... assistant editor
Elizabeth Kling .... contributing editor
Michael Kolvek .... color timer
Robert Mowen .... editorial intern
Teresa O'Brien .... post-production coordinator
Bruce Shaw .... associate editor
Lesley Topping .... assistant editor (as Leslie Topping)
Aaron D. Weisblatt .... assistant editor (as Aaron Weisblatt)
 
Music Department
Dan Dryden .... music contractor (music administrator)
Rory Johnston .... associate music producer
Kurt Munkacsi .... music producer: Euphorbia Productions Ltd.
Michael Riesman .... conductor
 
Other crew
Ted Bafaloukos .... title designer
Ellen Barrie Aaronson .... production office coordinator (as Ellen Aaronson)
Jay Boggis .... additional interlocutor
Veronica Brady .... production office coordinator
Fred Cassidy .... production assistant
Paul Conklin .... production assistant
Sean Coughlin .... opticals: IP/IN
Anne-Marie Fendrick .... production assistant (as Ann Marie Fendrick)
Richard Guay .... production auditor
Sarah Horowitz .... research assistant
Dmitry Kibrik .... production assistant
Nancy Kriegel .... assistant auditor
Felix Olivier .... location scout
Marshall Persinger .... craft service
Dale Pierce-Johnson .... production assistant
Joe Ponzi .... technical consultant
Lisa Schechter .... production office coordinator
Craig Schlichter .... production assistant
Susan Sheehan .... production assistant
Charles Silver .... production consultant
Mark Singer .... additional interlocutor
Chris Strand .... production assistant
Carah von Funk .... production assistant
John Pierson .... producer's representative (uncredited)
 
Thanks
George Beto .... special thanks: The Criminal Justice Center, Sam Houston State University (as Dr. George Beto)
Jay Byrd .... special thanks: The Texas Department of Corrections
Phil Guthrie .... special thanks: The Texas Department of Corrections
Robert Hobbs .... special thanks: The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office
Paul McWilliams .... special thanks: The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office
Noel Ian Morris .... dedicatee
Peter Phillips .... special thanks: The Criminal Justice Center, Sam Houston State University (as Dr. Peter Phillips)
Dennis Powell .... special thanks
Randy Schaffer .... special thanks
Jeff Scheftel .... special thanks
Volker Schlöndorff .... special thanks: Bioskop Film (as Volker Schlondorff)
Julia Sheehan .... special thanks
Robert Smith .... special thanks
Fred Strype .... special thanks: The Irving Film Commission
Henry M. Wade .... special thanks: The Dallas County District Attorney's Office (as Henry Wade)
Suzanne Weil .... special thanks
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
103 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Was chosen by "Entertainment Weekly' magazine as one of the "100 New Classics" ranking as #74 in the June 20, 2008 issue. The issue ranked the greatest movies of the previous 25 years.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 »
Movie Connections:
Features "Boston Blackie" (1951)See more »

FAQ

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60 out of 67 people found the following review useful.
Stunning depiction of a gross miscarriage of justice, 17 August 2001
Author: Dennis Littrell from United States

This is an extraordinary documentary in which film maker Errol Morris shows how an innocent man was convicted of murdering a policeman while the real murderer was let off scot free by the incompetent criminal justice system of Dallas, Texas. The amazing thing is that Morris demonstrates this gross miscarriage of justice in an utterly convincing manner simply by interviewing the participants. True, he reenacts the crime scene and flashes headlines from the newspaper stories to guide us, but it is simply the spoken words of the real murderer, especially in the cold-blooded, explosive audio tape that ends the film, that demonstrate not only his guilt but his psychopathic personality. And it is the spoken words of the defense attorneys, the rather substantial Edith James and the withdrawing Dennis White, and the wrongfully convicted Randall Adams that demonstrate the corrupt and incompetent methods used by the Dallas Country justice system to bring about this false conviction. Particularly chilling were the words of Judge Don Metcalfe, waxing teary-eyed, as he recalls listening to the prosecutor's summation about how society is made safe by that "thin blue line" of cops who give their lives to protect us from criminals. The chilling part is that while he is indulging his emotions he is allowing the cop killer to go free and helping to convict an innocent man. Almost as chilling in its revelation of just how perverted and corrupt the system has become, was the report of how a paid psychologist, as a means of justifying the death penalty, "interviewed" innocent Randall Adams for fifteen minutes and found him to be a danger to society, a blood-thirsty killer who would kill again.

This film will get your dander up. How the cops were so blind as to not see that 16-year-old David Harris was a dangerous, remorseless psychopath from the very beginning is beyond belief. He even took a delight in bragging about his crime. As Morris suggests, it was their desire to revenge the cop killing with the death penalty that blinded them to the obvious. They would rather fry an innocent man than convict the real murderer, who because of his age was not subject to the death penalty under Texas law. When an innocent man is wrongly convicted of a murder three things happen that are disastrous: One, an innocent man is in jail or even executed. Two, the real guilty party is free to kill again. And, three, the justice system is perverted. This last consequence is perhaps the worst. When people see their police, their courts, their judges condemning the innocent and letting the guilty walk free, they lose faith in the system and they begin to identify with those outside the system. They no longer trust the cops or the courts. The people become estranged from the system and the system becomes estranged from the people. This is the beginning of the breakdown of society. The Dallas cops and prosecutors and the stupid judge (David Metcalfe), who should have seen through the travesty, are to be blamed for the fact that David Harris, after he testified for the prosecution and was set free, did indeed kill again, as well as commit a number of other crimes of violence.

The beautiful thing about this film is, over and above the brilliance of its artistic construction, is that its message was so clear and so powerful that it led to the freeing of the innocent Randall Adams. Although the psychopathic David Harris, to my knowledge, was never tried for the crime he committed, he is in prison for other crimes and, it is hoped, will be there for the rest of his life. Errol Morris and the other people who made this fine film can pride in these facts and in knowing that they did a job that the Dallas criminal justice system was unable to do.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Anti Death Penalty?? wrg6
lets find a witness, a cheating cross eyed broke jive talking person escapereality
Some interesting quotes oiltanker
Reparations should be high in cases like this smcbee27
Perjurers in Adams trial make gigantic slips in film that set Adams free Moviemadness2012
Another documentary about racist cops whose case falls apart in court phantom_tollbooth
See more »

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