8.0/10
21,394
73 user 56 critic

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Crime | 25 August 1988 (USA)
Trailer
2:40 | Trailer
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
12 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

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Cast

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

Genres:

Documentary | Crime

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As explained in the movie, the film title refers to the symbolic "thin blue line" of police officers which separate the public from anarchy, which is described as a state of complete lawlessness. 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 Bill Hader on Salesman (2020) See more »

Soundtracks

Metamorphosis
(uncredited)
Written by Philip Glass
See more »

User Reviews

 
An astonishing look at the criminal justice system.
27 January 1999 | by mprinsSee all my reviews

Along with 1996's Paradise Lost, The Thin Blue Line should be mandatory viewing for those who believe that the criminal justice system eventually convicts only the guilty. It is a stark and shocking look at one man behind bars and the truckloads of evidence that point toward his innocence. Documentarian Errol Morris indirectly argues that, at the very least, this evidence should have presented a "reasonable doubt" to the jury, and near the end of the movie, the audience has little choice but to accept his unbelievable findings. And the film ends with a single scene of just a tape recorder and voices that should be recognized as one of the most powerful endings to a movie, ever. A documentary masterpiece.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 August 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Thin Blue Line See more »

Filming Locations:

Dallas, Texas, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,814, 28 August 1988

Gross USA:

$1,209,846

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,209,846
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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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