The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?

Could it actually be true? Are Doc Sarvis, Bonnie Abbzug, George Washington Hayduke III, and Seldom Seen and their monkey-wrenching exploits in the Southwest really coming to the big screen?

Cast from the imagination of the late Ed Abbey, there long has been talk and rumors of The Monkey Wrench Gang making its way from printed word to wide-screen film. But now the planets seem to be in alignment that Doc, Bonnie, Hayduke, and Seldom Seen really are on their way to high-def.

For those unfamiliar with Mr. Abbey's 1975 eco-warrior classic, The Monkey Wrench Gang follows the exploits of four mismatched desert lovers who fight the good fight for the environment in southern Utah and northern Arizona against a backdrop that ranges in and around Canyonlands National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Navajo National Monument, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Among their ideas in the fight for Mother Earth is the demolition of the Glen Canyon Dam, a deed that, in Seldom Seen's heart and soul, would deliver some serious environmental justice. "Good-bye and so long, Glen Canyon Dam. Welcome back Glen Canyon and the old Coloraddy River."

Here's how the story, which has been said to have launched the Earth First! movement, is capsulized on the dust jacket of the novel's 10th anniversary edition:

In the dank, steaming jungles of Vietnam, Hayduke longed for the grandeur, the light, and the freedom of the Southwestern desert. On his return to America he finds that someone or something is trying to change his desert into an industrial wasteland.

Meeting on a white-water float trip down the Colorado River, Hayduke, Doc, Bonnie and Seldom Seen discover a communal bond: a profound distrust of blind technology and a healthy hatred for the corporate interests whose lust for profit threatens the survival of the American Wilderness. They agree to become eco-raiders, declaring war on the strip miners, the clear-cutters, and the highway, dam and bridge builders. the result is chaos, conflict and comedy both high and low culminating in one of the greatest chase scenes in all literature.

What should make this a particularly fun production is the cast brought together by director Catherine Hardwicke. It's said to include Richard Dreyfuss, Jack Nicholson, John Goodman, Matthew McConaughey and Elizabeth Shue.

No word on its release date, other than sometime this year.


I loved that book!! I hope they stay true to the book because then it will be an excellent movie.

Somewhere at Slick Rock old Abbey will review this film with much enthusiasm...and may his spirit live on. I met this man many years ago and just seeing him you could feel the power of his crusty behavior...cantankerous and witty! They better do this film right or justice will be swift!!

I teach 8th grade social studies in Tuba City, and would love to see TMWG made into a film. We're dealing with some gang stuff, so that is the first connector. Second, and more important, we have a plume of radioactive contamination from the old uranium processing plant slowly moving into the sacred springs at Moenkopi, and who knows how much radioactive dust is settling in our lungs every time a SE wind arises? The Bush EPA has been silent (surprise!), but the House Government Oversight Committee is beginning to move. My kids could relate well, and now is the time for some green action.

I'm a long time fan of the Monkey Wrench Gang and have always wondered if and when a movie would come out. I was just searching around this evening to see if anything was in the works. It's great to hear that it may be coming out but if it's this year wouldn't there have been some previews out and about by now? Also, what is with that cast??? McConaughey is the only one in the correct age range for the characters. I could see him play Hayduke OR Seldom Seen. I could imagine him playing a good crazy GW Hayduke:-) Goodman could play a great Bishop Love too now that I think about it. But the others?? Who would Dreyfuss play? Or who would Nicholson play? I think they're both too old for Doc Sarvis. And Elizebeth Shue is gorgeous and all, underrated as an actress but really she's a bit old to play Bonnie. Abbzug was only in her early to barely mid-20's. I do hope that this cast isn't confirmed yet. I think they could do better.

You all agree? Disagree??

I definitely agree with your assessment of the cast. I didn't really picture Seldom Seen as a McConaughey type but possibly Hayduke. Goodman I would think is Bishop Love. We'll see though. It's possible these "big name actors" are playing smaller roles. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a popular book among actors.

Mizz Bonnie Abbzug was at 28, a full grown woman.

We have been thinking about this for years, casting and recasting the movie. The cast that was announced just isn't right for such an important movie. Hayduke and Seldom Seen aren't living in a retirement home and unless Nicholson and Dreyfus are playing their fathers, the movie's going to be another
"Grumpy Old Men". Sorry, but of those guys are TOO OLD; can anyone honestly see either one of them as the rugged, outdoorsmen Hayduke and Seldom are? They're good actors but they're not THAT good.

We see the cast like this:
First, we would hire the Coen Brothers to direct. They bring a quirkiness that would fit nicely with the story and and their cinematograghy is nothing short of brilliant. Imagine what they'd do with Canyonlands and Glenn Canyon as their backdrop.
Matthew McConnaughey as Seldom Seen. He has the attitude, the build, he's the right age and is a better actor than he gets credit for.
George Eads (Nick Stokes in CSI) as Hayduke. Have him grow his hair, spend some time in the sun...He has the looks, the physical attributes of GW and he's who I see when I think of Hayduke.
Jenneane Garofolo as Bonnie Abzug...she fits Abbey's description to a tee. 'nuf said.
Brian Dennehey as Doc Sarvis. Barrel chested, big voice, big man and great screen presence.
Robert Duvall as Bishop Love. He's the one big name in the cast and someone who would/could portray the Bishop as Abbey created him. And he's an Oscar winner who doesn't make enough movies these days.
And just for fun, Johnny Depp as the mysterious Horseman.

Whatever the outcome, Hollywood is going to be hardpressed to live up to what Edward Abbey put to paper. Right now, it sounds like it just won't be what it deserves to be.

Robert Duvall as Doc and Dennehy as the Bishop seems more apt to me. Woody Harrelson IS Hayduke; we will accept no other and will Crazy Glue your car doors and cut yer fences if you don't agree. No compromise in defence of MWG!

the only real hayduke is russell crowe

no way...

GWH should be Jack Black. Get him in the gym and let the hair grow and he'd be PERF.

I love the idea as bishop love being Duvall and Woody being Seldom, But Bonnie Abzug should be Jessica Beil hands down Garofolo does not fit the attractive description that leads you to believe she could be both the hot assistant in doc's office and a troublemaker. I also like the idea if Depp playing the horseman but if you catch at the end of hayduke lives george asked the man his name and he says jack burns which is the main character in the brave cowboy another abbey novel in which he is described as a tall skinny man this could be important if hayduke lives becomes a sequel. I lovve these books can only assume it will be a flop based on the cast and director

I am deeply sceptical. My opinion is that America (especially Hollywood) has done precious little favours to great American literary works over the years. I think Panama Red and Rudolf the Red have it right. This film sounds like a good idea, but in the end true justice will not be served, leaving this Bible for the Champions of the Underdog, the defenders of the American West from the slow, stranglehold of Walmart death that is gripping the last fabrics of the fragile quilt that is/was the American Dream, a scar that shall never heal. Much like our fabled Route 66, what seemed like a timeless, right of passage, TMWG has now entered the doldrums of Pop Culture Nostalgia. At least Robert Redford went horse back riding with Edward Abbey; he could probably give a little grit to a film that already sounds like its missing teeth. Cathy better get it right.

Yo, Tee Vee! Take a chill pill and be still! What’s with the pessimism? Here are quality actors, an experienced director and what seems like at least a halfway decent idea. As the saying goes “You can’t stop progress, you can only slow it down.” Take into consideration the following… Give Hollywood at least a little credit for finding a damn fine novel to bring to the screen. If it worked for JAWS, tinkering the story a little can work for this. If “Cathy” can pull off a raw, non-over indulgent special affects budgeted script that doesn’t swoon for a sappy ending, this could come out well. Who will play Bonnie’s son Ruben? Hopefully not Macaulay Culkin because then you would have a point! If this is set after retirement, I think Clint Eastwood as Seldom Seen, Bill Murray as Hayduke, Redford can play Doc for sure and Cate Blanchett as our beautiful Bonnie. It’s a tough call as to the Bishop, Duvall or Goodman.

Well, it's a movie that should be made, and I am excited, but let's prepare ourselves for the inevitable. No movie ever does complete justice to any book; we will all experience disappointment on some level when our favorite scenes in the story look TOTALLY different than how our minds formed them through Mr. Abbey's writing. Having said that, I look forward to the film maker's interpretation of Bonnie getting her way out of that swimming hole...

Bonnie is Drew Barrymore. I like Dennehey as Doc and I can work with McConaughey as Seldom. Hayduke is a tough one. I'm thinking more Keanu Reeves than Woody Harrelson, but in an ideal world we could timetravel the guy who played Luke Duke on the original Dukes Of Hazard TEE VEE show to the present day and put him in there.

Ahh, the voice of reason! Yes, we are always disappointed or bemused by certain scenes that are in our minds that get portrayed by another’s point of view. It is inevitable. I am lost as to how you get Keanu Reeves in there though. I don't think he even knows how to use profanities! Drew?? She's too young. Let's just enjoy the book as we do and welcome the arrival of our favourite environmental heroes to the big screen. For better or worse.

All the above ... and here's a thought ... maybe one of the BBC outfits should do the adaptation? They have areal knack for making literature reflect some of the reality of the printed page.

WollyHood? That is like thinking Wal-Mart is haute cuisine!

I don't know rg the lg.
"Hollywood" did a very fine adaptation of Abbey's book The Brave Cowboy, titled "Lonely Are the Brave" with Kirk Douglas at his best.
(Writer Dalton Trumbo adapted the book to screenplay)
Of course there was the TV movie adaptation of "Fire on the Mountain" with Buddy Ebsen and Ron Howard :-)
It will be interesting to see what Catherine Hardwicke can do with the actors.
Wonder who is adapting the book into the screenplay?