The Thin Blue Line

Synopsis: Errol Morris's unique documentary dramatically re-enacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer's murder in Dallas, Texas. Briefly, a drifter (Randall Adams) ran out of gas and was picked up by a 16-year-old runaway (David Harris). Later that night, they drank some beer, smoked some marijuana, and went to the movies. Then, their stories diverged. Adams claimed that he left for his motel, where he was staying with his brother, and went to sleep. Harris, however, said that they were stopped by police late that night, and Adams suddenly shot the officer approaching their car. The film shows the audience the evidence gathered by the police, who were under extreme pressure to clear the case. It strongly makes a point that the circumstantial evidence was very flimsy. In fact, it becomes apparent that Harris was a much more likely suspect and was in the middle of a crime spree, eventually ending up on Death Row himself for the later commission of other crimes. Morris implies th
Director(s): Errol Morris
Production: HBO Video
  12 wins & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
101 min

In October, my brother and I left Ohio.

We were driving to California.

We got into Dallas on a Thursday night.

Friday morning, while I'm eating eggs

and drinking coffee, I get a good job.

All these people

are supposedly out of work.

I'm not in town a half a day,

and I've got a job.

Everything clicked.

It's as if I was meant to be here.

I'd run away from home a couple

of times. Once or twice. I don't know.

And this all started,

David is running away from home.

And he takes... I took

a pistol of my dad's and a shotgun.

Took a neighbor's car.

I had broken into their house

and got the keys to it.

I forget exactly what it was.

Ended up coming to Dallas.

I went to work and no one showed up.

Being a weekend, sometimes

they worked, sometimes they didn't.

On the way home, I ran out of gas.

And as I was walking down the street

with the gas can...

a person, at that time, pulled over.

I guess since I had the gas can...

he figured I was out of gas.

I wasn't 100 yards from the car.

And being Thanksgiving weekend,

there was no gas stations open.

He stopped and asked me

if I needed any help.

I'm driving down some street

somewhere in Dallas.

I had just turned 16.

And there was a guy over there,

I think he'd run out of gas...

I took him to get some gas.

This was Randall Adams.

Ended up following him where

him and his brother were staying.

Eventually, that evening...

we went out and got some beer.

We smoked a little marijuana

and what have you.

Went to a movie that night.

I get up, I go to work on Saturday.

Why did I meet this kid? I don't know.

Why did I run out of gas at that time?

I don't know. But it happened.

The day they picked me up, December 21.

They took me upstairs.

What floor, I don't know.

But they put me in a little room.

Gus Rose walked in.

He had a confession there

he wanted me to sign.

He said that I would sign.

He didn't give a damn what I said.

I would sign this piece of paper.

I told him I couldn't.

"I don't know what the hell

you people expect of me.

"But there's no way I can sign that. "

He left. He came back in 10 minutes.

And threw a pistol on the table.

Asked me to look at it. Which I did. I looked.

He asked me to pick it up.

I told him no, I wouldn't do that.

He threatened me.

Again, I told him no.

He pulled his service revolver on me.

We looked at each other for...

To me, it seemed hours.

I do not like looking down

the barrel of a pistol.

I do not like being threatened.

When he finally saw

that he would either have to kill me...

or forget the signature...

I guess he forgot the signature,

because he put his pistol up.

He took the pistol on the table,

put it up and stormed out.

I had a casual, friendly conversation

with him to start with...

to try to size him up...

to see what he liked and what he didn't like.

I found almost immediately

that he didn't have much conscience.

Anything he had done,

it never really bothered him.

He had done other things

that he told me about...

that didn't seem to bother him in the least.

He showed no expression whatsoever.

It's just like he's sitting here

talking about the color of this wall...

or the shooting of the police officer.

He showed no reaction

to any of the questions.

He almost overacted his innocence.

He protested he hadn't done anything.

Couldn't imagine

why we were bringing him in.

He didn't fight or he didn't resist.

He just protested his innocence.

I told them what happened that

Saturday, that I had met this kid.

I kept telling them the same thing.

They didn't want to believe me.

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Errol Morris

Errol Mark Morris (born February 5, 1948) is an American film director primarily of documentaries examining and investigating, among other things, authorities and eccentrics. He is perhaps best known for his 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line, commonly cited among the best and most influential documentaries ever made. In 2003, his documentary film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Thin Blue Line" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 27 Jan. 2021. <>.

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