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Thin Blue Line: Synopsis

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Directed by Errol Morris
Genre: Documentary

Runtime: 103 Minutes
Country: USA

Language: English
Sound Mix: Dolby


"The Thin Blue Line" is the fascinating, controversial true story of the arrest and conviction of Randall Adams for the murder of a Dallas policeman in 1976. Billed as "the first movie mystery to actually solve a murder," the film is credited with overturning the conviction of Randall Dale Adams for the murder of Dallas police officer Robert Wood, a crime for which Adams was sentenced to death. With its use of expressionistic reenactments, interview material and music by Philip Glass, it pioneered a new kind of non-fiction filmmaking. Its style has been copied in countless reality-based television programs and feature films.

Terrence Rafferty in The New Yorker has called it "a powerful and thrillingly strange movie. Morris seems to want to bring us to the point at which our apprehension of the real world reaches a pitch of paranoia -- to induce in us the state of mind of a detective whose scrutiny of the evidence has begun to take on the feverish clarity of hallucination."

"The Thin Blue Line" was voted the best film of 1988 in a Washington Post survey of 250 film critics. Premiere magazine, in a survey of films of the 1980s, described it as one of the most important and influential movies of the decade.

Credited cast overview:

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)

Credited crew overview:

Director .... Errol Morris
Producer .... Mark Lipson
Associate Producer .... Brad Fuller
Executive Producer .... Lindsay Law
Original Music .... Philip Glass
Directors of Photography .... Robert Chappell, Stefan Czapsky
Editor .... Paul Barnes
Production Designer .... Ted Bafaloukos

Produced in association with Channel 4 (U.K); The Program Development Company; and American Playhouse with funding from Public Television Stations, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The National Endowment for the Arts and The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.


Best Documentary, 1988
- New York Film Critics Circle
- National Board of Review
- National Society of Film Critics

Best Movie, 1988
- Washington Post Survey of 250 Film Critics
- Mystery Writers of America (Edgar Award)

Best Foreign Film, 1988
- Taiwan International Film Festival (Golden Horse Award)
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