The Thin Blue Line

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 17

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,706

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Movie Info

One night in November 1976, after his car breaks down on a road outside Dallas, Randall Dale Adams accepts a ride from teenager David Harris. Harris is driving a stolen vehicle and, later that night, when Dallas police officer Robert Wood pulls the car over to check its headlights, he is shot and killed. A jury believes Adams is the killer, but Errol Morris' classic documentary explores the role of Harris' perjured testimony, misleading witness accounts and police misconduct in the verdict.

Cast & Crew

David Harris
Himself
Lindsay Law
Executive Producer
Philip Glass
Original Music
Robert Chappell
Cinematographer
Stefan Czapsky
Cinematographer
Paul Barnes
Film Editor
Lester Cohen
Art Direction
Errol Morris
Screenwriter
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News & Interviews for The Thin Blue Line

Critic Reviews for The Thin Blue Line

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (17)

  • Quote not available.

    April 17, 2001 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
    BBC.com
    Top Critic
  • Although The Thin Blue Line assembles an almost inassailable case... it is not a conventional documentary -- not a feature-length version of one of those 60 Minutes segments in which innocent men are rescued from Death Row.

    January 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Documentaries have changed minds, championed causes, and even reversed policy, but The Thin Blue Line (1988) may be the first film to free a man from prison.

    February 4, 2018 | Full Review…
  • ...engaging as a procedural and compelling as a meditation on the nature of truth.

    November 11, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A magnificent example of the worth of cinema.

    April 8, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Morris was working in a dangerous middle ground between the traditional documentary and the fictional feature film, and his merging of various techniques paid off in a film of singular uniqueness in both its aesthetic approach and its real-world impact.

    March 31, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Thin Blue Line

  • Jan 09, 2019
    Errol Morris has brought true crime documentaries to a high-quality level with this influential, mind-changing and at times quite scary film that offers some compelling evidence of how flawed the American justice system is and how easy it is to convict an innocent man of murder.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2013
    Morris' central achievement in my opinion is placing the viewer non-partially into the judge's chair and, in very, very quiet tones, simply asks you to be the judge, to make a decision: who is the murderer here? The evidence is placed before you without fanfare; the murder, the accused, the suspected, the witnesses, the suspicions, the allegations, the conjecture, the blame. I was in the midst of deciding before I realised how skillfully I had been made to give a damn.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 14, 2012
    Great earlier Morris that brought some justice to the case of Randall Dale Adams. One of the best documentaries of the 1980s.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 01, 2012
    <i>"A softcore movie, Dr. Death, a chocolate milkshake, a nosey blonde and "The Carol Burnett Show." Solving this mystery is going to be murder."</i> A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas. <center><font size=+2 face="Century Schoolbook"><b><u>REVIEW</u></b></font></center> The film happened almost by accident: Morris became sidetracked while researching another project and began to investigate, on film, the case of Adams and Harris, two strangers whose paths crossed in Dallas one night in November of 1976. What the documentary maker discovered from his own methodical accumulation of clues, rumors, and offhand testimony was an overwhelming case against the young drifter David Harris, who clearly fingered Adams for his own crime. Morris was aided by a convincing and articulate defense presented by Adams himself, whose calm recitation of facts is often more hypnotic than the ominous Philip Glass music score. Director Errol Morris reconstructs the case using old film footage, odd graphic digressions, dramatic reenactments, and interviews with almost everyone involved, including the likely true killer, who tacitly admits his guilt in the final scene. The film is more artfully arranged than most documentaries, and yet is so honest in its pursuit of the truth that it proved instrumental in correcting a miscarriage of justice (after it opened, the case against Harris was reopened, and eventually overturned). The director himself remains (as usual) all but invisible throughout the film, except for his trademark deadpan irreverence (the word blue in the title is colored red, and so forth). A tragic miscarriage of justice would seem an inappropriate source of laughs, but the streak of dark humor underlines the sometimes absurd workings of an imperfect legal system.
    Lorenzo v Super Reviewer

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