If 6 Bridges to Cross earns a profit, it will make its subject--the $2,500,000 Brink's robbery--look like petit larceny. The film's chances for financial success are limited, however, since it appeals mainly to Bostonians wanting to see some familiar scenes and to the robbery's original cast wanting to see some unfamiliar and ludicrously phoney ones. The Boston scenes, by the way, are real, for the Universal people were not satisfied with a cardboard Common. Unfortunately, however, they were perfectly satisfied with cardboard characterization and plot.
With the exception, then, of the few shots of local geography, 6 Bridges to Cross is twice removed from reality. Its story is based on a recent novel, The Anatomy of a Crime, which author Joseph F. Dinneen claims to be "a startling parallel" to the unsolved bank's robbery of five years ago. Despite its literary deficiencies, the book contains some interesting insights into the relationships between the F.B.I. and local authorities and between the police and their "stool pigeons"; in short, it is excellent material for a movie, or rather it was before being distorted in 6 Bridges to Cross.
Dealing with the latter problem, the film describes the symbiotic association of a cop and his "stoolie." The cop rises from a rookie patrolman to a plain-clothes lieutenant on the strength of tips from his informer. In exchange, the "stool pigeon" receives pardons and paroles for crimes he commits in other districts, and in the process, he progresses for apple snatching in Hay-market Square to the $2,500,000 theft. As the camera moves gracefully from one non sequitur to the next, the fatherly policeman is alternately hopeful and disillusioned in his efforts to reform the informer.
Needless to say, the "stoolie" role is a disgusting one, and Tony Curtis was a perfect choice. George Nader plays the policemean and also does a good job. In fact, the whole cast, including the countless unwitting Bostonians, does the best it can; its only guilt is that of association with a second-rate melodrama.