Journey of Natty Gann [1985]

Director: Dick Bush, Jeremy Kagan
Stars: Meredith Salenger, John Cusack, Ray Wise, Lainie Kazan, Scatman Crothers
Genre: Family, Adventure
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 101 minutes

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

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