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Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Journey Of Natty Gann (1985)

Set in 1935 Chicago during the great depression, the only work a widower (Ray Wise) is able to get is in Washington state. He leaves his young daughter (Meredith Salenger) in the care of the rooming house's owner (Lainie Kazan) with the intention of sending for her when he can. But fearing the rooming house owner will have her sent to an orphanage as an abandoned child, the daughter runs away intent on traveling cross country on her own to get to her father. Directed by Jeremy Kagan (THE BIG FIX), this is a Walt Disney film but there are strong adult elements unusual for a film with the Disney imprimatur on it. There's child abuse, animal abuse and even a pedophile shows up. The film is very good at imparting life during the Great Depression. There's rich detail in the cinematography of Dick Bush (VICTOR VICTORIA), the production design of Paul Sylbert (HEAVEN CAN WAIT) and the Oscar nominated costumes of Albert Wolsky (GREASE). This being a Disney film, it tends to lean toward sentimentality and there are several teary eye moments but it never becomes mawkish. Salenger gives a gritty performance and there's a scene stealing performance by Jed as a wolf (the four legged kind). With John Cusack, Scatman Crothers, Verna Bloom and Barry Miller.

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