Pimp My Searching: Internet Movie Database

Danny mentioned yesterday we've been planning a "Pimp My Search Engine" series to help readers get more out of their favorite search engines. Well, we're off! However, today I won't be telling you how to pimp one of the big, major search engines. Instead, I want to help pimp you as a searcher by getting you to a great specialty/vertical search engine. That's none other than the very popular Internet Movie Database from Amazon.com.

IMDB has become a standard and respected reference database for film and TV information. For film, TV, and pop-culture freaks, it's also a great deal of fun.

The IMDB is more than just a "enter a movie title or actor's name and get results" type of place. Sure, that type of search works fine, but it only scratches the surface of what IMDB offers.

Buried, deep (and I mean deep) within the IMBD web site is this amazing Power Search page search interface that can help you find an incredible amount of movie/TV info within seconds. I learned about this interface when a news librarian asked on a listserv I monitor to come up with a solid list of movies filmed in Denver. IMDB got me a list in about 10 seconds.

Specifically, I went to the Power Search page, and in section two, entered Denver in the "location" field and got nearly 200 matches. A perfect list? Probably not, but no reference tool is 100 percent accurate.

Sure, I could have gone to Yahoo, MSN, or Google and started searching and searching but they aren't the best tool for this type of specific reference request. This IMDB interface understood the context of my search was about TV and movies and only that.

I probably could have called Denver or the Colorado Film Commission to get a list. Well, that's true, but I'm not sure everyone would think to do that and heck, this was easier and faster. Plus, this interface offers many more options. How about comedy movies that filmed in Denver between 1970-1980 and were rated R? No problem! (There were four, by the way, including that Clint Eastwood classic, Every Which Way But Loose.

By the way, this is not the only other specialty search interface the IMDB offers. Another favorite is the Name Search/People Working Together database. Just enter names and see if they've appeared or worked together.

For example: How many movies (if any) have Gene Hackman and James Gandolfini been in together? Put both of those names in the "Names" box, click "Start Name Search," and a new page loads with both actors listed. Check the boxes next to their names, then click the "Look up joint ventures" button. Back comes the answer:

  • Crimson Tide (1995)
  • Get Shorty (1995)
  • Mexican, The (2001)
  • Have fun!