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The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Randall Adams , David Harris , Errol Morris  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)

Price: $78.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson, Marshall Touchton
  • Directors: Errol Morris
  • Writers: Errol Morris
  • Producers: Brad Fuller, David Hohmann, Gary McDonald, Lindsay Law, Mark Lipson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00094AS72
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,130 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Thin Blue Line" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Includes Mr. Personality "First Person" TV Episode

Editorial Reviews

Academy AwardÂ(r)-winner* Errol Morris broke new ground with the "riveting" (LA Weekly) film that dramatically reenacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer's murder in Dallas. So powerful and convincing that it helped free an innocent man from prison, The Thin Blue Line is "one of the finest documentary features ever made" (Boxoffice). On November 28, 1976, when drifter Randall Dale Adams was picked up by teenage runaway David Harris, his fate was sealed. That night, a police officer was shot in cold blood. And though all the facts pointed to Harris, a sociopath with a lengthy rap sheet, Adams was convicted of capital murder. Was Adamsguilty? And if not, can Morris unlock the secrets of this baffling case? *2003: Documentary Feature, The Fog of War (with Michael Williams)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning depiction of a gross miscarriage of justice August 17, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, Facinating, and True! April 14, 2005
You can probably think of a handful of movies that seemed to affect your consciousness. Like the way some people say Catcher in the Rye changed their lives. But whether they actually changed you in a real, permanent way remains to be seen.

The Thin Blue Line is a different matter. This movie fundamentally affected at least one person's life in an irreversible way. Without giving away the plot, Randall Dale Adams will certainly never be the same.

The movie deals with the killing of a Texas Trooper and whether or not Texas justice got it right. Morris reveals the facts of the case using strange and haunting reenactments to cover multiple stories and exploring what people said vs. what the physical evidence suggested. He does not push a viewpoint but carefully crafts it, allowing you to accept or reject the various positions. Soon, you are drawn into the central issue of guilt or innocence and the many areas of gray in between.

It's a documentary that plays like a murder mystery, but it is frighteningly true. It's burned as much into my mind because of the number of high-profile cases in Texas where people were either in prison on death row despite being innocent; CBS news magazine 60 Minutes profiles many of them.

But you do not have to have an attitude toward the death penalty to be drawn to The Thin Blue Line. It is entertaining in and of itself. Errol Morris fans will enjoy experiencing one of his earlier works. It also features what I think is one of the better Philip Glass scores.

If you're looking for violence, sex, car chases, or explosions - stay away, you'll hate this. But if you can handle a movie that is more seductive than explosive, this is for you.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the damnedest documentaries I have ever seen. March 26, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I am a movie buff from Widener University, who bought this documentary on VHS as an afterthought while buying two other critically acclaimed docs, Streetwise and Gates of Heaven (both given 4 stars by Roger Ebert, who's like a second father to me). Although some people might not like the fact that this VHS version was pan-and-scan, the visual impact of the filmed interviews as well as the soundtrack still shines through. Anyone who wonders why so many people oppose the death penalty should see this film. People who have served jury duty (or are considering it) will also benefit. The Thin Blue Line not only shows how justice can miscarry all too easily, it makes its viewers get to know the interviewees all too well. Errol Morris's reconstructions of the different versions of Officer Wood's murder show up the inconsistencies of the witnesses' testimony so strongly that the real murderer, David Harris (who was only sixteen when he shot Wood)confessed to the crime. Of course by then Harris had nothing further to lose; he was already on Death Row for a subsequent murder. I would be surprised if Roger Ebert didn't raise his rating for this doc from 3 1/2 stars to four and include it in his list of "The Great Movies."
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic documentary July 19, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This superb documentary, despite being criticized for its use of fictitious re-creation scenes, provides convincing proof that a Dallas man was wrongly accused of killing a police officer. The accused man, who had been put on death row for 12 years, was eventually freed because of this film. Comprised mainly of interviews of the people involved in the murder case (including, chillingly, the person believed to be the real killer), the film paints a frightening picture of our justice system gone haywire. The dramatic re-creations, complete with film-noir like camera work and music score, to some violate the rules in documentary films, which traditionally contain only 100% documentary footage. Director Errol Morris' response to the criticism was that, "the re-creations are not supposed to depict the truths, but the LIES people have told. I believe David Harris shot the policeman, but the re-creations NEVER show that."
A bit of injustice was served to this film as well, as it was not nominated for a best-documentary oscar.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 24 days ago by William Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid viewed!
I have watched this story a number of times. It never fails to amaze. One of the better of Michael Moore's documentaries. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Calebini
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great documentary
Published 2 months ago by Faith coward
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
It was a great documentary.The best part is ,it helped free Randall Adams
Published 2 months ago by lala
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing documentary
The story of a terrible miscarriage of justice. Told as a series of of interviews and reenactments. with no narrator to tie the pieces together for us -- but by the end , it's... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Philip Nathanson
5.0 out of 5 stars So sad
It's so sad that Adams wanted to make good for himself, got a job, was doing all the right things. Then to get caught up in this web of prosecution for the murder of a police... Read more
Published 4 months ago by SteelJan
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
Very good documentary. Had to watch for a class and write a paper. Interesting film making technique. Entertaining and engaging.
Published 5 months ago by L. B.
4.0 out of 5 stars Thin Blue Line Informative Movie
This was highly informative. Justice can be so misplaced at times. You read more and more about injustices in the Justice System. It is frightening.
Published 5 months ago by sylester mazzella
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept..............!
Not bad as a documentary...........!
I was interested to see how the "arrested and charged" individual di thru out his ordeal............ Read more
Published 5 months ago by wes crume
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Put Together and Representative of the Need for Careful Death...
The case of Randall Adams should give you chills. This man was wrongfully convicted by an obviously corrupt police force and prosecutor, and helps to make the case why the Death... Read more
Published 5 months ago by JM
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