America is in the depths of the Great Depression. Families drift apart when faraway jobs beckon. In this masterful, atmospheric adventure, a courageous young girl (Meredith Salenger) confronts overwhelming odds when she embarks on a cross-country search for her father. During her extraordinary odyssey, she forms a close bond with two diverse traveling companions: a magnificent, protective wolf, and a hardened drifter (John Cusack). A brilliant, moving tapestry, woven of courage and perseverance.
A sleeper when released in 1985, The Journey of Natty Gann
has since become an enduring family classic. While following a familiar Disney formula (the perilous adventures of a girl and her pet wolf), director Jeremy Paul Kagan adds something fresh at every turn, aided by a first-rate cast and beautifully scenic locations. Then-promising newcomer Meredith Salenger is perfect in the title role--a scrappy kid in Depression-era Chicago who travels cross-country to the Pacific Northwest, hoping to find her father (Ray Wise), who had been forced to leave her with an awful landlady while he took a logging job in Washington. Natty befriends the wolf and a fellow drifter (John Cusack, in an early role), and her journey is a memorable one, intense and realistic but still appropriate for kids. Although Salenger's subsequent film career has been modest (she later graduated cum laude
from Harvard), Natty Gann
remains a worthy claim to fame. --Jeff Shannon