Saturday, April 3, 2010

#150 The Thin Blue Line (1988)


Director: Errol Morris

Cast: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson, Marshall Touchton

This is a documentary bent on exposing a case of wrongful justice carried out in Dallas County, Texas. The story is that of Randall Adams, a man sentenced to life for the murder of police officer, Robert Wood-- the disturbing part being that he is innocent. The documentary dramatically re-enacts the case, obtaining interviews from all involved, including the then-16-year-old runaway who did in fact commit the murder of the police officer.

Randall Adams, somewhat of a drifter, ran out of gas on his way home from work one day. A 16-year-old runaway (David Harris) assisted him on the side of the road, and the two spent the rest of the day together: drinking beer, smoking weed, and saw a movie. But this is where their stories diverge. Randall Adams claimed he went back to his motel, watched tv, and went to sleep. David Harris claims they were driving when a cop pulled them over, and Adams fired at the officer as he approached the car.

Carried by the momentum to quickly clear out the case, the police of Dallas County and VIdor, Texas neglected to examine the majority of the evidence pointing clearly at David Harris as the murderer. Instead, Randall Adams was tried and found guilty, and it wasn't until after the release of this documentary that he was freed from jail-- 12 years after he was convicted.

The story is a good one, albeit quite frustrating to watch dumb people fuck up a man's life. Also, the style of the documentary was very, very dated to the 80s. I enjoyed the film a great amount, but it's not the best documentary I've ever seen. Also, the director reused clips of footage probably 6-8 times throughout the movie. Perhaps he was doing it for emphasis, but at certain points, it just really felt like he didn't bother shooting enough to make a film.

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