The Amazing & Incredibly Addicting IMDb


In high school and through summers in college, two of my best friends managed the local movie house.  Torn seat covers.  Floors like Velcro.  The buttery scent of freshly popped corn.  There were three screens shoe-horned into what used to be one.  On any given night, I could be found ensconced in the balcony (which was closed to the public) munching popcorn, slurping a Coke and losing myself in Hollywood magic.

All for free, of course.  Talk about friends in high places.

Dont mind him, hes gotten stuck at IMDB again.

"Don't mind him, he's gotten stuck at IMDb again."

This is where I discovered “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Aliens,” “Amadeus,” “Back to the Future,” “The Princess Bride,” “The Shining,” “Gandhi,” “Chariots of Fire” and dozens of others.  It’s where I learned to enjoy foreign films and art house eclectic as well as take a tormented pleasure in fantastically bad cinema (Thank you, “Joysticks”).

This is where my passion for film took root, grew and blossomed.  There are few pleasure I enjoy more than heading to a movie theater (“except maybe the Indy 500”).  And, yes, I’m one of those people that often heads to the cinema alone.

This is why I love the Internet Movie Database (either the best or worst named web site on earth).  Oh, there are a lots of irritating things about IMDb, including a terrible search function and a site design that stifles browsing and discovery.  But despite these flaws, IMDb is sticky as hell.  It’s like flying into a giant spider web.

There are few web sites as fun as IMDb.  It’s a quick reference to remember the name of that guy – you know – that guy in “ER” who was a fighter pilot that died because of Tom Cruise.  You know who I mean (Anthony Edwards in “Top Gun.”)!  Or the name of that actress in “Last of the Mohicans” who also played that blind woman in that other movie (Madeliene Stowe and “Blink”).  Or figuring out just who the heck directed “Desperately Seeking Susan”? (Susan Seidelman – who disappeared a few years later into television).

But IMDb is so much more.  You can look up quotes from your favorite movies.  Try these on for size (Bonus points for anyone who can name all three – the Indy 500 quote from above):

  • “Correct me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key…”
  • “I got some bad ideas in my head.”
  • “Put your seatbelt on, boy. I don’t ride with anybody ‘less they wear their seatbelt. It’s one of my rules.”

Then there is the trivia.  Inside baseball nuggets about your favorite films.  Some of them just blow you away:

  • Dustin Hoffman was the first choice to play Deckard in “Blade Runner.”
  • The first script for “Alien” had the character of Ripley as a man.
  • Alec Guinness consider his lines in the first “Star Wars” to be “rubbish.”

How can you not keep reading stuff like that?  Then there are the goofs – mistakes in the narrative or the flow of the picture.  There are forums to connect with other film freaks.  You can write reviews.  You can watch trailers.  You can rank films.  There is news and gossip.  There are full cast lists.  You can even watch a library of more than 6,000 movies.  You can find movie times in your local area.

I’m not alone in my love for IMBb.  The site has had more than 57 million visitors (and has 17 million registered users).  And – believe it or not – IMBb has been owned by Amazon.com since 1998.

IMBb is successful because it taps into the passion of its users.  Almost all of the content is user generated.  From the beginning, hundreds of volunteers added their knowledge to the site and solicited insider information.  The database grew and grew – as did the value of the company.  There was some initial infighting and bitterness when the site was sold to Amazon, but that seems to have disappeared.  IMDb continues to grow in popularity.

Wouldn’t it great if all businesses were able to tap in the passions – and the vast knowledge of their users like IMDb does?

(Email me at gfsnell (AT) gmail (DOT) com if you want the answers to the movie quotes above.  You can also make your guesses through comments section below).

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