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The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)

In the 1930s, a tomboyish girl runs away from her guardian to join her single father who is 2,000 miles away, because there was work there.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Farm Woman
Bruce M. Fischer ...
Charlie Linfield
Logging Boss
Jack Rader ...
Employment Agent
Matthew Faison ...
Jordan Pratt ...
Campbell Lane ...
Chicago Moderator
Max Trumpower ...
Chicago Worker


Natty Gann (played by Meredith Salenger) is a twelve year old Depression era girl whose single-parent father leaves her behind in Chicago while he goes to Washington State to look for work in the timber industry. Natty runs away from the guardian she was left with to follow Dad. She befriends and is befriended by a wolf that has been abused in dog fights, hops a freight train west, and is presumed dead when her wallet is found after the train crashes. Dad gets bitter and endangers himself in his new job. Meanwhile Natty has a series of adventures and mis- adventures in various farmhouses, police stations, hobo camps, reform schools, and boxcars. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Her name is Natty Gann. Two thousand miles of danger separate her from her father. Only love, hope and courage can help her find him. See more »


Family | Adventure


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

27 September 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Natty Gann  »

Box Office


$2,135,577 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(as Dolby Stereo®)


| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was among many '70s and '80s Disney titles that the studio licensed for DVD to Anchor Bay Entertainment, an independent distributor best known for its cult titles. However, Disney opted not to renew its deal with Anchor Bay before any such DVD existed. See more »


After Sol tops off his first tree, he puts his axe on the top. He then climbs up to sit on the top, but the axe has disappeared. See more »


Harry: [Harry has just hauled Natty into the boxcar, where she was dangling dangerously over the edge] You know, uh, you can get hurt that way.
Hobo: I thought *that* one was a goner.
Hobo: *Rail* meat.
Hobo: Little bits of blood and busted...
Harry: Leave the kid alone!
See more »


Referenced in Race to Witch Mountain (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Meredith Salenger will break your heart
8 February 2003 | by (England) – See all my reviews

This haunting and delightful film - intended for children but equally compelling for adults - tells the story of Natty Gann, a brave and resourceful young girl who traipses across Depression-era America to find her only relative, her long-lost dad. If that sounds depressing then think again. This is a gem of a film. It has Meredith Salenger in the lead role displaying a warmth and maturity to carry a role that may easily have overwhelmed a less gifted actress. How on earth she hasn't become a big star is completely beyond me. Offering commendable support is John Cusack as the older boy and drifter she befriends on her journey. Children's films so often tend to lean towards sentiment or easy endings but this uncompromising film, and yes, the language gets a little colourful at times but so what, has a depth to it that makes you root for the heroine to the very end. Natty Gann is simply a wonderful film for young and old alike.

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