The Thin Blue Line



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Time Out says

Documentarist-extraordinary Morris' original and delightfully bizarre slice of investigative film-journalism attempts, successfully, to set the record straight about one Randall Adams, imprisoned in 1976 for the murder of a Dallas cop. It is also a philosophical thesis on problems of knowledge and truth, which uses highly stylised dramatic reconstructions of the crime to offer a multitude of perspectives on what really happened, and a darkly comic, nightmarish study in self-delusion and deception. The legal figures and witnesses Morris interviews are transparently weird, shifty, obsessive and unreliable. Indeed, the movie - immaculately structured, beautifully shot, sensitively scored by Philip Glass - is a poignant and hilarious essay on oddball America. Morris' skill in suggesting that Adams' original trial involved at best a miscarriage of justice, at worst corruption, ensures that the audience becomes a surrogate jury. The film provokes sadness, anger, relief, admiration, and wonder; enjoy it, and worry.


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Release details

UK release:



101 mins

Cast and crew


Dennis White, Edith James, Randall Adams, Don Metcalfe, David Harris


Paul Barnes, Elizabeth Kling


Stefan Czapsky, Robert Chappell


Errol Morris


Mark Lipson

Production Designer:

Ted Bafaloukos


Philip Glass

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3.8 / 5

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fred truby

Whether the film is true to the documentary form or not, it is a captivating and revealing look at the failings of the crminal justice system in this country. No less revealing is the true-to-life portrayal of an American sub-cullture which is poor, unambitious, and disconected.