I know I'm not perfect, and I know I will never position myself for being almost perfect. Stuff happens in life that we never truly forget, whether good or bad. I know for a fact that about six things are etched in my head at the moment because of all the stuff me and my family have been through in the last 20 years since I was born. It's sometimes hard to sleep at night, especially that month at the Holiday Inn a long time ago.

However, there's one movie genre that has helped me through these rough times since middle school: the western. Clint Eastwood and John Wayne have been the constant sources of inspiration for me, and I don't think I'll ever stop watching these timeless movies that are more than just random shootouts and cliche one-liners.

1. "The Searchers" (1956, Warner Bros.)

The essential western, John Wayne's perfectly complex character Ethan Edwards leads a long search of his niece, who was kidnapped by Native Americans at a young age. The film's themes of calling out racism, blacklists, and other Cold War-era subjects were acted against the backdrop of Monument Valley, director John Ford's favorite place to film. Wayne's performance could have easily won an Oscar, however to this day it remains the number one film on any western movie lover's list.


2. "Shane" (1953, Paramount)

Alan Ladd's solid performance of a reformed yet mysterious gunslinger has been garnered as not only a perfect hero in a western but as well as a teacher to the young boy in the film who dreams of being a gunfighter. However, Shane teaches young Joey a different lesson: don't be a gunslinger. The overall movie tells the story of ranchers versus a land baron, yet Shane's story arc connects into the entirety of the film that makes this also one of the most revered westerns of all time.


3. "Unforgiven" (1992, Warner Bros.)

Clint Eastwood's unofficial last western tells the story of an ex-bounty hunter doing one last job before being torn apart mentally between going back home or extracting revenge for his friend (played by Morgan Freeman). Overall, the movie calls out how America's obsession with gunplay and violence can ruin not only a man but also an entire town. It is considered a classic modern western film that won a ton of awards.


4. "High Noon" (1952, United Artists)

When you're feeling against the wall, watch this film. Gary Cooper's performance as a stoic lawman won him Best Actor, yet the film itself calls out the Cold War-era witchhunts of communists, too. The film's real-time narrative made this one of the most important films of that decade, and today's climate would definitely see it as a form of inspiration if the pressure is getting to you. Trust me, I watched this at a pivotal time in my life and it helped me push this large obstacle out of my life for good.


Hopefully, these four films inspire you after you've watched them, and if not, I just hope you enjoyed the films themselves.