Six Degrees of Separation (film)

Six Degrees of Separation is a 1993 American comedy-drama film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Fred Schepisi, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-nominated[3] John Guare play of the same name.

Six Degrees of Separation
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFred Schepisi
Produced byFred Schepisi
Arnon Milchan
Screenplay byJohn Guare
Based onSix Degrees of Separation
by John Guare
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyIan Baker
Edited byPeter Honess
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • December 8, 1993 (1993-12-08)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$6.4 million[2]

The plot of the film was inspired by the real-life story of David Hampton, a con man and robber who convinced a number of people in the 1980s that he was the son of actor Sidney Poitier. The writer John Guare was a friend of Inger McCabe Elliott and her husband Osborn Elliott. In October 1983, Hampton came to the Elliotts' New York apartment and they allowed him to spend the night. The next morning, Inger found Hampton in bed with another man and later called the police. The Elliotts told Guare about the story and it inspired him to write the play years later.[4][5]


Fifth Avenue socialite Ouisa Kittredge (Stockard Channing) and her art dealer husband Flan (Donald Sutherland) are parents of "two at Harvard and a girl at Groton". However, the narrow world inhabited by the Kittredges and their public status as people interested in the arts make them easy prey for Paul (Will Smith). Paul, a skillful con-artist, mysteriously appears at their door one night, injured and bleeding, claiming to be a close college friend of their Ivy League kids, as well as the son of Sidney Poitier.

Ouisa and Flan are much impressed by Paul's fine taste, keen wit, articulate literary expositions and surprising culinary skill. His appealing facade soon has the Kittredges putting him up, lending him money and taking satisfaction in his praise for their posh lifestyle. Paul's scheme continues until, after he brings home a hustler, his actual indigence is revealed. The shocked Kittredges kick him out when it is revealed that they are but the most recent victims of the duplicity with which Paul has charmed his way into many upper-crust homes along the Upper East Side.

Paul's schemes become highbrow-legend, anecdotal onaccounta, which are bantered about at their cocktail parties. In the end, Paul has a profound effect on the many individuals who encounter him, linking them in their shared experience.



The film has an approval rating of 88% at Rotten Tomatoes based on 32 reviews, with an average rating of 7.12/10. The site's consensus reads: "Though it betrays its theatrical roots, Six Degrees of Separation largely succeeds thanks to astute direction and fine performances–particularly from an against-type Will Smith."[6]


See also


  1. Plunka, Gene A. (2002). The Black Comedy of John Guare. University of Delaware Press. p. 188. ISBN 9780874137637.
  2. "Six Degrees of Separation". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  3. "The Pulitzer Prizes". Retrieved 2013-09-19.
  4. New York Mag The Story of David Hampton accessed 7-27-2015
  5. Gerston, Jill (6 March 1994). "Stockard Channing Goes West". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-19.
  6. Rotten Tomatoes
  7. "THE 66th ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS : Best Actress". Los Angeles Times. 1994-02-10. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
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