|Six Degrees of Separation|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fred Schepisi|
|Produced by||Fred Schepisi|
|Screenplay by||John Guare|
|Based on||Six Degrees of Separation|
by John Guare
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Edited by||Peter Honess|
|Box office||$6.4 million|
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 John Guare play of the same name.
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.
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). A skillful con-artist, Paul 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."