The western began as a uniquely American genre of film, extoling the heroic virtues of cowboys and settlers pioneering the western frontier in the 1800s. Primarily action films at heart, these early efforts contained copious (if bloodless) gunplay but often reinforced stereotypes of American Indians as savages or were otherwise rather simplistic morally. The traditional white-hatted hero facing a black-hatted villain on main street at high noon became a typical cliche. By the 1950s, however, many filmmakers began using the western form as a way of exploring deeply ingrained attitudes about the meaning of America, heroism, violence, and courage. Moral ambiguity began to enter the genre, particularly in its 1960s European offshoot, the spaghetti western. Increased social awareness in the 1970s led to a series of so-called "revisionist westerns" which attempted to present historical events and attitudes in more realistic terms. These found little success at the box-office, however, until a series of thoughtful, big-budget westerns in the early 1990s rekindled the form.