If you are looking for something to watch this weekend, the classic Errol Morris documentary The Thin Blue Line is available on Netflix and Amazon. It tells the story of Randall Dale Adams, who was put on death row in Texas after being wrongfully convicted of the 1976 murder of Dallas Police Officer Robert W. Wood.
When The Thin Blue Line premiered in 1988, Peter Applebome of the New York Times called it an “eerie cinematic evocation of a Texas frameup.” Although Morris’s film predated the internet and social media, and initially only had a limited release, it created a national outcry over the outrageous miscarriage of justice in the Adams case. Just one year after The Thin Blue Line premiered, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Adams’s conviction and he was released from prison, having spent 12 years behind bars.
Groundbreaking in 1988, The Thin Blue Line still exercises a deep influence on documentary filmmaking. In 2016 Morris did a fascinating interview with Slate, discussing how he made the film as well as his reaction to the 2015 documentary Making a Murderer, which bears many of the hallmarks of The Thin Blue Line. Here is the 1988 original trailer for The Thin Blue Line, courtesy of YouTube. It gives a nice taste of the film and its haunting soundtrack.