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Feast of Stephen

Stephen King's favorite films -- Outside of terror, ''Bananas'' and ''The Wild Bunch'' are just two of the novelist's most-loved movies

Even Stephen King needs an occasional break from the horrors of his job, though there's nothing scary about one of his choice distractions: watching movies — and not just frightening ones. Here are his favorites outside the realm of terror:

THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1952): ''It might be the only romantic adventure that really works for me on the level of my heart. The guy Bogart played was the sort of slob I am, and when that prissy, preachy Katharine Hepburn fell in love with him I just said to myself, 'I wish that was my story.' It appeals to a lot of simple emotional needs in my makeup and rings completely true in my head.''

THE WILD BUNCH (1969): ''The neat thing about this on video is it's Peckinpah's original cut, and it's about 20 minutes longer (than the theatrical release). I get off on the extravagant level of violence; it's the last Western for me that really works. When William Holden goes up to Ernest Borgnine who's in this hot tub with these two Mexican cuties scrubbing his back, and Holden says, 'Let's go,' and Borgnine says, 'Why not?' — well, I love that.''

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966): ''I like the sweep of it. It's huge and absurd. (Director) Sergio Leone was a guy who would do these huge wide-screen epics, then do an extreme close-up on the ugliest outlaw you ever saw, and you can count the hairs coming out of his nose.''

BANANAS (1971): ''I love that moment where this huge black lady is on the stand and identifies herself as J. Edgar Hoover. When the prosecutor questions her about her appearance, she says, 'I have many enemies.'''

BEING THERE (1979): ''It makes me laugh. Peter Sellers has always broken me up.''

Originally posted Feb 19, 1993 Published in issue #158 Feb 19, 1993 Order article reprints