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|The Journey of Natty Gann|
|Directed by||Jeremy Kagan|
|Produced by||Michael Lobell|
|Written by||Jeanne Rosenberg|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||David Holden|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$9.7 million (U.S. and Canada only)|
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, Lainie Kazan and Ray Wise.
In 1935, 15-year-old tomboy Natty Gann lives in Chicago with her unemployed widowed father, Sol. After being out of work because of the Great Depression, Sol applies for work as a lumberjack in Washington. However, to take the job, he must leave on almost no notice on a company bus. Unable to find Natty before departing, he leaves her a letter promising to send her the fare to join him as soon as he has earned it. Meanwhile, he makes arrangements with Connie, the shallow and insensitive innkeeper of their rooming-house, so Natty can stay on under Connie's temporary supervision.
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 riding the rails along with other penniless travelers and hobos. Along the way she saves a wolfdog from a dog fighting ring. In return the dog, whom she calls Wolf, becomes her friend and protector in her attempt to return to her father. She has a brief, innocent romance with another young traveler, Harry, and encounters various obstacles that test her courage, perseverance, and ingenuity, such as being arrested after cattle rustling and remanded to a juvenile facility. Natty manages to escape the detention center with the help of another girl Twinky (who is resigned to her remaining time of 3 years, 5 months, and 17 days in the orphanage) and confronts the blacksmith who has been given control of the captured Wolf. The blacksmith, Charlie Linfield, turns out to be kind and fair-minded. He releases Wolf to Natty, gives her food, a ride to a train station at Riverbend (assumed to be Riverbend, MT) and enough money for a ticket. She is cheated of her ticket money by an unscrupulous ticket agent, and narrowly escapes his attempt to turn her in, returning to "riding the rails" illicitly on freight trains, where she is unexpectedly reunited with Harry in a rail-side shantytown.
When Natty's father calls Connie, she tells him Natty is gone. In a later phone call he is grieved to learn that Natty's wallet was found underneath a derailed freight train — unbeknownst to him, she lived through the crash. He is given a week's leave from the lumber company to search through the wreckage for her, but to no avail. He returns to the lumber camp and requests the most dangerous jobs, known as "widow's work", now that he seems to have little to live for.
Arriving on the west coast, Natty's journey takes several more challenging turns. Harry finds work through the federal Works Progress Administration in San Francisco, but she declines his invitation to go with him, preferring to find her father. The logging operation does not list Sol Gann among their workers, but Natty is undeterred, searching fruitlessly for him by showing other loggers his photo in a pendant he has given her which is her last trace of her parents. Wolf hears the calls of other wolves nearby, and Natty tearfully tells him to go join his own kind. The company clerk catches her in one of the backwoods camps and makes arrangements for her to be sent back down the mountain for her own safety. The clerk then unexpectedly finds the returned letter her father had sent enclosing her train ticket to rejoin him and tells Natty of his location. Natty sets out on foot and sees a company truck pass by loaded with injured men. In the truck, she glimpses her father. She runs after it, calling out for him, but is eventually devastated when it outpaces her. She hears his voice call out for her and finds him standing in the road. They share an emotional embrace, with Wolf looking on from a nearby cliff.
The film has been released in the United States on VHS in April 1986, then again in 2002. The DVD version was released using the pan and scan format. The title was also made available for streaming and download in SD and HD versions (without pan and scan).  It was released on Blu-Ray as part of Disney's Movie Club on July 17, 2018.
The movie has gained universally positive reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 100%, based on 15 reviews, with a rating average of 7/10. Critics praised the actors' performances and the film's portrayal of Depression-era life, while lamenting its pace and level of sentimentality.
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). Albert Wolsky's costume design received an Academy Award nomination.
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. Both scores were released on compact disc – Bernstein's in 2008 as part of a four-disc set of rejected scores by Varèse Sarabande (also including Gangs of New York and The Scarlet Letter) and Horner's in 2009 by Intrada Records.