Six Degrees of Separation (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Six degrees (disambiguation).
Six Degrees of Separation
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Fred Schepisi
Produced by Arnon Milchan
Written by John Guare
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Ian Baker
Edited by Peter Honess
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • December 8, 1993 (1993-12-08)
Running time
112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[1]
Box office $6.4 million[2]

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

The plot of the film was inspired by the real-life story of David Hampton, a con man and robber who managed to convince 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 Elliott's New York apartment and they allowed him to spend the night. The next morning, Inger Elliott 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] For her lead performance as a fictionalized version of Inger Elliott, Stockard Channing received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.[5]


Fifth Avenue socialite Ouisa Kittredge (Stockard Channing) and her art dealer husband Flan (Donald Sutherland), are parents of "two at Harvard and one at Groton". But 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 is a skillful con-artist, who 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 he brings home a hustler, and 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 accounts of 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. 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]

It was also the actress Stockard Channing's most successful film since 1978's Grease.



  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. ^ a b "THE 66th ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS : Best Actress". Los Angeles Times. 1994-02-10. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]