Taglines: The journey that made the impossible come true.
Natty Gann (played by Meredith Salenger) is a twelve year old Depression era girl whose single-parent father leaves her behind in Chicago while he goes to Washington State to look for work in the timber industry. Natty runs away from the guardian she was left with to follow Dad.
She befriends and is befriended by a wolf that has been abused in dog fights, hops a freight train west, and is presumed dead when her wallet is found after the train crashes. Dad gets bitter and endangers himself in his new job. Meanwhile Natty has a series of adventures and mis- adventures in various farmhouses, police stations, hobo camps, reform schools, and boxcars.
The Journey of Natty Gann is a 1985 American film directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and released by Buena Vista Distribution. The film introduced Meredith Salenger and also starred John Cusack, Ray Wise, Lainie Kazan, Scatman Crothers, Barry Miller, Verna Bloom and Bruce M. Fischer.
About the Story
Set in 1935, the movie tells the story of a 15-year-old tomboy girl, Natty Gann (Meredith Salenger). Out of work because of Depression-era unemployment, Natty’s widowed father (Ray Wise) parlays his surefootedness into getting a job as a lumberjack. In order to get hired, he travels from Chicago to the state of Washington. He tells Natty that she will have to look after herself for the time being. Having no mother, Natty is left in the care of Connie (Lainie Kazan), the insensitive woman who manages the hotel Natty and her father had been living in.
After overhearing Connie reporting her as an abandoned child, Natty runs away to find her father on her own, embarking on a cross-country journey. Along the way she saves a wolfdog from a dog fighting ring. In return the dog, whom she calls Wolf, follows her as her protector in her attempt to return to her Father. She has a brief, innocent romance with another young traveler (John Cusack), and encounters various obstacles that test her courage, perseverance, and ingenuity, such as being falsely accused of cattle rustling and remanded to a juvenile facility. Natty escapes the detention center and is aided by a mountain man, who spirits her out of the area and gives her some money.
Connie tells Natty’s father on the phone that she ran away, causing him to worry. He becomes grief-stricken when he learns that Natty’s wallet was found underneath a derailed train – unbeknownst to him, she lived through the crash when she stowed away on it during part of her journey. He leaves the lumber company to search through the wreckage for her, to no avail. He returns to the lumber camp and accepts the most dangerous jobs, known as “widow’s work” on the basis that his daughter has died and he should throw himself into his work.
The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)
Directed by: Jeremy Kagan
Starring: Meredith Salenger, John Cusack, Ray Wise, Lainie Kazan, Scatman Crothers, Barry Miller, Verna Bloom, Bruce M. Fischer
Screenplay by: Jeanne Rosenberg
Production Design by: Paul Sylbert
Cinematography by: Dick Bush
Film Editing by: David Holden
Costume Design by: Albert Wolsky
Set Decoration by: Jim Erickson
Art Direction by: Michael S. Bolton
Music by: James Horner
istributed by: Buena Vista Distribution
Release Date: September 27, 1985