One of the later examples of American film noir, The Big Heat is also one of the genre's most underrated films. Director Fritz Lang utilized many of the elements typical to his other films: unseen yet gruesome violence, relentless pacing, and a hardboiled view of justice and revenge. The sad, realist film has an oppressive feeling of malignity. Glenn Ford is a perfect everyman cop, out for revenge against criminals as well as other cops. In this way, The Big Heat marks a significant transition between the crime movies of two different eras. Prior to the early 1970s, police dramas tended to pit police in very clear opposition to the men in the black hats, with the notable exceptions of On Dangerous Ground or The Big Combo. After the culture shock of the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, films like Dirty Harry, The French Connection and Serpico began an obsession with the ambivalent emotions that make a policeman and his department tick. In many ways, The Big Heat was a precursor for these films, both in theme and tone. The film has drawn ire from some viewers who point out that the its female characters exist, in large part, to be brutally antagonized.