The two most successful creations of American movies are the gangster and western movies: men with guns.
This reflects the importance of guns in the fantasy life of Americans.
The hero of the western asserts his honor and demonstrates the possibility of "style" in the face of inevitable defeat. He asserts that even in killing and being killed we are not freed from the necessity of establishing an admirable mode of behavior.
The westerner is lonely and sometimes melancholy, but these feelings come from the recognition that life is unavoidably serious. His loneliness is organic and testifying to his completeness.
He is not compelled to seek love, he is prepared to accept it, but he never asks of it more than it can give, and we see him in situations where love is at best an irrelevance. If there is a woman he loves, she is usually unable to understand his motives, and he finds it impossible to explain to her that there is no point in being "against" there things: they belong to his world. Very often this woman is from the East and her failure to understand represents a clash of cultures. The West, lacking the graces of civilization, is the place "where men are men" and thus men have the deeper wisdom and the women are children.
Those women who share the hero's understanding of life are prostitutes, women who have come to understand in the most practical way, how love can be irrelevance. She has quasi-masculine independence, nobody owns her, nothing has to be explained to her, and she is not, like a virtuous woman, a "value" that demands to be protected. When the westerner leaves the prostitute for virtuous woman - for love - he is forsaking a way of life, though the point of choice is often obscured by having the prostitute killed by getting into the line of fire.
The Westerner is a man of leisure, even when he wears a badge or owns a ranch. We see him standing at a bar, or playing poker. We are not aware that he owns anything except his horse, his guns, and the one worn suit of clothing which is likely to remain unchanged all throughout the movie. As a rule we don't know where he sleeps at night. Employment, usually unproductive, is always open to the westerner, but when he accepts it, it's not because he needs to make a living or "get ahead."
We know he is on the side of justice and order, and of course it can be said he fights for justice and order, but such broad aims never correspond to his real motives, they only offer his opportunity. He just do what he "has to do."