The Journey of Natty Gann

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The Journey of Natty Gann
Journey of natty gann movie poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Jeremy Kagan
Produced by Michael Lobell
Written by Andrew Bergman
Jeanne Rosenberg
Starring Meredith Salenger
John Cusack
Ray Wise
Music by James Horner
Elmer Bernstein
(uncredited score
Cinematography Dick Bush
Edited by David Holden
Steven Rosenblum
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • September 27, 1985 (1985-09-27)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $9,708,373 (U.S. and Canada only)[1]

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.[2][3] The movie introduced Meredith Salenger and John Cusack and also starred Lainie Kazan and Ray Wise.


Set in 1935, the movie tells the story of a 12-year-old girl, Natty Gann (Meredith Salenger). Out of work because of Depression-era unemployment, Natty's father (Ray Wise) travels from Chicago to the state of Washington to find work in the timber industry, leaving tomboyish Natty behind. 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 is befriended by a wolf who travels with her for much of her voyage, has a brief, innocent romance with another young traveler (John Cusack), and encounters various obstacles that test her courage, perseverance, and ingenuity.

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 company and takes on "widow's work" (dangerous work) under the resolve that she's dead.

Locating her father's company's base-camp, Natty eventually finds and reunites with her father in a heart wrenching embrace on a mountain road.


One of the filmings on the BC Rail, known as the British Columbia Railway formerly the Pacific Great Eastern Railway (PGE) before 1972, between Pemberton & Lillooet is ranked as one of the top 10 most-scenic rail journeys in the world.[4]


Jed the wolf-dog[edit]

  • The wolf-dog, Jed, who portrays the wolf befriended by Natty, later appeared as the title animal in White Fang. He also appeared as the first form taken by the alien creature in The Thing.

Home media[edit]

The film has been released in the United States on VHS as well as DVD. The DVD version was released using the pan and scan format.[5][6]


The movie has gained generally positive reviews; as of 2014 it holds a "7/10" approval rating from 14 critical reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.[7] Critics praised the actors' performances and the film's portrayal of Depression-era life, while lamenting its pace and level of sentimentality.[8][9][10]


At the Young Artist Awards, Salenger won for Best Leading Young Actress in a Feature Film, and the film itself was nominated for Best Family Motion Picture (Drama).[11] Albert Wolsky's costume design received an Academy Award nomination.[12]


Elmer Bernstein originally scored the picture, having to rewrite much of his material in the process; ultimately most of his music was replaced with a new score by James Horner.[13] Both scores were released on compact disc - Bernstein's in 2008 as part of a four-disc set of rejected scores by Varese Sarabande (also including Gangs Of New York and The Scarlet Letter), Horner's in 2009 by Intrada Records.


  1. ^ Box Office Mojo: The Journey of Natty Gann
  2. ^ LA Times: A Test Case For The Family Film October 19, 1985
  3. ^ Team Disney--flying High In Burbank July 28, 1985
  4. ^ "The Pacific Great Eastern Railway". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Amazon: The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)
  6. ^ The Journey of Natty Gann DVD Review
  7. ^ "The Journey of Natty Gann". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-08-30. 
  8. ^ LA Times: Movie Review : Grimness Of Heart In 'Natty Gann' Saga October 11, 1985
  9. ^ New York Times: FILM: TALE OF RUNAWAY, 'JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN January 17, 1986
  10. ^ Variety-Review: “The Journey of Natty Gann” December 31, 1984
  11. ^ [1] "Seventh Annual Youth in Film Awards 1984-1985"
  12. ^ "The 58th Academy Awards (1986) Nominees and Winners." Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  13. ^ Christian Clemmensen. "Filmtracks: The Journey of Natty Gann". Filmtracks. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 

External links[edit]