The Journey of Natty Gann (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
This came out in 1985, when I was ten years old. I must have first seen it on The Wonderful World of Disney, in 1987. I also recall having the novelization of the movie, which I probably read before I ever had the chance to see the movie. However, when I watched the movie again in 2014, on DVD, I didn't really remember any details of the plot, just the basic premise. So it was fun to refresh my memory. Also... I did remember thinking Natty (Meredith Salenger) was cute and cool, and it was probably around this time that I really started liking tomboy characters (not that I had anything against them before). It's also probably one of the earliest things in which I saw characters train hopping. And it's probably the first thing I ever saw John Cusack in. Same goes for Ray Wise. Anyway, it's definitely a good movie.
It's set in 1935, during the Great Depression. A widower named Sol Gann (Wise) is living in Chicago with his 12-year-old daughter, Natty. Like pretty much everyone else, Sol is looking for work, but there are hardly any jobs available. But one day, he's offered a job cutting down trees in Washington state. He doesn't want to take the job, because it would mean leaving Natty behind, alone, until he could afford to send her a ticket to come join him. Meanwhile, he leaves her in the care of Connie, the woman who runs the hotel where they live. But neither Connie nor Natty are happy about this arrangement, and when Natty overhears her making a call to report Natty as an abandoned child, she decides to hop a train and ride the rails to Washington, to find her father.
The first person Natty meet on her journey is a young man named Harry (Cusack), who's also train-hopping his way to the west coast, to look for work. But their initial encounter is brief. A bit later, Natty wanders into a building where a dog fight is taking place. She's obviously appalled by it, and when the winner of the fight- a wolf- is trying to escape, she opens the door to let him out. After that, Natty and the wolf cross paths a few times before they finally start traveling together. Natty will meet a number of other people in her travels, some nice and some not. Anyway, Natty and the wolf have several misadventures, before crossing paths with Harry, again. Then the three of them travel together, encountering more obstacles. There's also a hint of potential romantic interest between Natty and Harry, though I'd say he was definitely too old for her. (Actually, I'm not sure Natty is 12, that's just what Wikipedia said. The actress was more like 14 or 15, but even that's a few years too young for Harry.) But nothing much really happens between them, so... whatever.
Eventually, their paths diverge, and Natty and wolf continue looing for Sol. Meanwhile, Sol had learned fairly early on that Natty had run away, so he spends some time trying to find her. But circumstances made it seem that she had most likely died, so he gives up and returns to work, and volunteers for more dangerous jobs, since he no longer has anything to live for. Will father and daughter eventually be reunited? I'm not gonna say, but remember... it is a Disney movie....
Oh yeah, also I should mention that Scatman Crothers had a minor role, early in the movie. That was pretty cool.