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The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Crime, Drama | 25 August 1988 (USA)
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A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

Director:

Errol Morris

Writer:

Errol Morris
12 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Randall Adams Randall Adams ... Himself
David Ray Harris David Ray Harris ... Himself
Gus Rose Gus Rose ... Himself (Homicide Detective in Dallas)
Jackie Johnson Jackie Johnson ... Herself (Homicide Detective in Dallas)
Marshall Touchton Marshall Touchton ... Himself (Homicide Detective in Dallas)
Dale Holt Dale Holt ... Himself (Internal Affairs Investigator in Dallas)
Sam Kittrell Sam Kittrell ... Himself (Police Detective in Vidor)
Hootie Nelson Hootie Nelson ... Himself (Friend of David Harris in Vidor)
Dennis Johnson Dennis Johnson ... Himself (Friend of David Harris in Vidor)
Floyd Jackson Floyd Jackson ... Himself (Friend of David Harris in Vidor)
Edith James Edith James ... Herself (Defense Attorney)
Dennis White Dennis White ... Himself (Defense Attorney)
Don Metcalfe Don Metcalfe ... Himself (The Judge)
Emily Miller Emily Miller ... Herself (Surprise Eyewitness)
R.L. Miller 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 August 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

På en skör tråd See more »

Filming Locations:

Dallas, Texas, USA

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,209,846
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was released the very same year the National Film Registry was first established. The film was selected to be preserved at the Registry 13 years later, making it the first film to be preserved that is as old as the Registry itself. See more »

Quotes

David Harris: [asked if Randall Dale Adams is innocent] Did you ask him?
Errol Morris: Yes.
David Harris: What did he say?
Errol Morris: Well, he's always said he's innocent.
David Harris: There you go. You didn't believe him did you? Criminals always lie.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Metamorphosis
Written by Philip Glass
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Into The Thin Blue Line Of Fire
25 February 2007 | by LechuguillaSee 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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