The Old Man of the Mountain
Maurice Rapf (or Uncle Maury to us kids) was the real deal in the business of writing. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Dartmouth Film School – a program that he helped establish – the school's Film Society paid tribute to Maurice, his life in the movie business and his solid commitment in teaching film courses at Dartmouth for over 40 years.
Maurice was the scion of the 1930s MGM studio era: the first son of a movie producer; a lad whose childhood included free run of the Hollywood back lots in that golden era of film. He developed into a screenwriter and is historically remembered for his contributions to Disney's classic film – The Song of the South. He worked on that script and, to his dying day, regretted the racial stereotypes portrayed in the film.
Among his friends, colleagues and classmates were the writers, Buck Henry, Budd Shulberg and Ring Lardner (to drop a literary name or two). Here are a few more biographic details. In the 1950s McCarthy era, Maurice was blacklisted from Hollywood and the film industry for his political ideas. In the mid-50s, he packed his family up and moved back to NYC, later migrating to Vermont, where he then began his teaching career at Dartmouth. In June of 1968, Maurice reviewed the movie, 2001 for LIFE magazine. He saw the future (and wrote about it).
When Maurice died in 2003, a geologic landmark of New England fell with him. The granite formation, known as The Old Man of the Mountain, collapsed in the months that followed his death. These cliffs are still today the emblem of the 25 cent piece for the state of New Hampshire. And when Maurice passed on, the hills came a tumbling down.
His allegorical epitaph may have been these words, spoken by the New England statesman, Daniel Webster, "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades: shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewellers a monster watch and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there, He makes men."