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USA 1988
Directed by
Errol Morris
98 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars

The Thin Blue Line

Errol Morris's remarkable documentary is the result of a two-and-a-half year investigation into the trial of Randall Adams for the murder of a police officer in Dallas County, Texas in 1976.

Originally the project was begun as a study of "Dr. Death", a State-appointed psychiatrist and expert witness notorious for pronouncing accused prisoners, with whom he had met only briefly, as menaces to society and this expediting their journey to the electric chair. Dr. Death, however, becomes a mere footnote in a stunning exposé of the combination of cynicism, bigotry and stupidity of what in Texas of the time apparently passed as a legal system. 

Morris meticulously builds a picture of those involved - the accused, the witnesses, the police, the lawyers and so on - combining and re-combining remarkably candid interviews with these people with archival material and brilliantly directed re-enactments, all underpinned by a haunting Phillip Glass score, to create a fascinating journey to the truth, finally revealed in a stunning 1986 audio recording of David Harris, the man (then a 16 year old) who originally accused Adams.

FYI:: Randall Adams was released in 1989 as a result of Morris's film, having served eleven years in jail, four of them on death row. Harris, who actually killed the police officer was executed for another murder in 2004.




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