It was there that the director Quentin Tarantino started out, as a video clerk discussing and recommending movies to film buffs all day.
It’s not quite the same, but San Francisco-based Clerk Dogs, a people-powered movie recommendation service launching today, is trying to recreate this personal service online.
Type in the name of a film you love and Clerk Dogs will recommend a list of movies you should also like.
So Reservoir Dogs produces the highlighted suggestion Pulp Fiction, and also similar movies such as The Departed and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.
If users don’t find the suggestions helpful, they can “mash” their own list, adjusting sliders for characteristics such as black humour, violence and character depth.
Netflix, the online DVD rental service, has a similar recommendation service, which is machine-powered and refined by its users as they award stars to movies they have ordered and viewed.
However, its Cinematch system is imperfect enough for Netflix to have offered a $1m prize to programmers who can increase its performance by 10 per cent.
Clerk Dogs would not qualify as its database engine is supplemented by 22 site writers, most of them former video clerks.
Their analysis of films makes the service more comparable to Pandora, the human-powered music recommendation service.
Clerk Dogs’ founder is 60-year-old Stuart Skorman, who opened his own video rental store in the mid 80s. He founded the Reel.com online video store ten years later and sold it for $100m in 1998.
His film classification experts, including five writers from Reel.com he reunited in 2006, are steadily working their way through the movie libraries. Crime and suspense are done, with other genres due to be added in the near future.