The Thin Blue Line


Police car pulls someone over. Cop gets out of police car and walks to other car. Gunfire. Cop falls. Milkshake is thrown. Repeat.

This is Errol Morris’ documentary, The Thin Blue Line in a nutshell. Considering its prestige and accomplishment of getting a free man out of jail, I was very surprised how much I disliked the film.

The Thin Blue Line dramatically re-enacts the true story of the arrest and conviction of Randall Adams for the murder of a Dallas police officer in 1976. Randall Adams ran out of gas one day and was picked up by a runaway, David Harris. After being stopped by a police car, one of the men shot the police officer. The documentary lays out the evidence found throughout the investigation, insinuating that David Harris is a much more likely suspect, than the already convicted Adams.

The documentary took a very cinematic approach in revealing the sequence of events leading to the arrest of Randal Adams. I thought this was way over done, adding a cheese factor to the whole thing. I can only watch the a police car pull over to the side of a street in the dark so many times…

The fact that there were no lower thirds in the entire film also ruined it for me. I spent the first hour of the film still trying to figure out who was being interviewed on screen. Much to the annoyance of my movie-watching partner, I continuously asked questions as to what was going on, before I had to pause the film and look up the backstory.

For your reference, here are labelled pictures of the men involved in the case. You’re welcome.

David Harris

Randal Adams

In addition, by showing David Harris in an orange jumpsuit, it was my assumption that he was the one convicted of the murder. But I had the two main suspects mixed up. It wasn’t until I did further research that I realized Harris was in jail for an entirely different crime (hence the jumpsuit). Maybe it was just me, but how affective can a film be if you don’t even know who the characters are?

Overall review: Disappointed.


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