1985 / Director. Jeremy Kagan.
Disney have an affection for wolves but before White Fang and Iron Will there was THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN. It's similar to those films and tells the story of a young girl, Natty, who is separated from her father when he leaves her in Chicago for a job in Washington State. When his letter calling for her to follow is lost in the post she embarks on her own journey across arid country where she faces all kinds of adversities. From angry farmers to smooth talking thieves... and she even has a run-in with a pedophile. Protecting her along the way is a beautiful wild wolf who snarls to her defence when things get dicey. She also meets another drifter (John Cusack) who has nowhere to go and becomes attracted to Natty. It's a lovely film and like so many pre-90s live action Disney movies, it's an exercise in substance. It takes its time and doesn't rush to the next action sequence. It trusts the audience to ride at its pace and in doing so it makes for a heartwarming and picturesque adventure, free from gimmick and too many cliches. John Cusack is good, although he only features in a quarter of the film and Ray Wise is perfectly cast as the desperate father in search of his little girl. And then of course there's Meredith Salenger in her first major role. She was a nice discovery and has obviously gone on to a successful career in show biz. THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN is a wholesome family film which blends Belle & Sebastian with White Fang. If you've got kids then it will make for an engaging and historically educational movie night. Double it up with Never Cry Wolf or Iron Will and you've got a winner!