Death of Writer Edward Abbey
I was very sad to
read in your paper that author Edward Abbey
("Thoreau of the American West") has died (Part
1, March 16). In your detailed obituary, I was astonished
that no mention was made of his book "The Brave
I came across a paperback edition of this book around
1960, and was deeply moved. I bought the movie rights and
finally persuaded Universal to allow my company, Bryna,
to make the film, which was brilliantly written by Dalton
Trumbo and produced by Eddie Lewis. In the cast with me
were Gena Rowlands, Walter Matthau and William Shatner,
and introducing Carrel O'Connor in a small role. They all
gave marvelous performances.
In the opening scene, I played Jack Burns (Edward
Abbey), who rides across a wide plain and comes up to a
large wire fence. I get off my horse, taking a pair of
pliers, cut the fence and ride on. In your article you
quote Abbey: "I am the one who loved un-fenced
I never met Mr. Abbey, but we wrote to each other
several times. I apologized to him that the studio
insisted on changing the title of "Brave
Cowboy" to "Lonely Are the Brave."
In the more than 60 films that I've made, this is my
favorite. I am very pleased when I get a letter, or
someone comes up to me saying it is also their favorite.
Hollywood was capable of transferring the feelings of
this great environmentalist to film. People will always
be able to see as well as read the beliefs of this great
man in "Lonely Are the Brave."