The Thin Blue Line
Through archival footage, interviews and reenactments, filmmaker Errol Morris makes a case for the innocence of a man erroneously convicted of murder.
On November 28, 1976, Ohio resident Randall Dale Adams was stranded on a lonely road outside Dallas when his car ran out of gas. Adams accepted a ride from teenager David Harris, not knowing that Harris was driving a stolen car. Later that same evening, Dallas police officer Robert Wood was shot and killed when he pulled over the selfsame car. Two witnesses, including Harris, fingered Adams as the trigger man. Condemned to execution for the murder, Adams' sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1979. Flash forward to the early 1980s: Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (Gates of Heaven), while preparing a film on a Dallas psychiatrist who frequently testified in murder cases, read the court transcripts of Adams' trial. Convinced that Adams, who never faltered in his protestations of innocence, was unfairly treated by the court, Morris began working on a film on the subject. The result was the classic documentary feature The Thin Blue Line--and the reopening of the Robert Wood murder case and eventual freeing of Adams on March 15, 1988. Enhanced by hallucinatory re-enacted scenes, not to mention the mesmerizing musical score by Philip Glass, The Thin Blue Line is a superlative example of "advocacy" filmmaking.