Night Moves (1975)

Directed by Arthur Penn

Private detective and former football player Harry Moseby gets hired on to what seems a standard missing person case, as a former Hollywood actress whose only major roles came thanks to being married to a studio mogul wants Moseby to find and return her daughter. Harry travels to Florida to find her, but he begins to see a connection between the runaway girl, the world of Hollywood stuntmen, and a suspicious mechanic when an unsolved murder comes to light.

Gene Hackman eventually finds the 'Acapulco Falcon' that was seemingly driving the other characters, but it does not bring any sort of catharsis to him nor the film, which itself closes with Hackman doing literal (and metaphorical) donuts in the Florida Gulf. In retrospect, this self-aware (but not self-indulgent) noir seems to perfectly capture the 'bummer' political sensibilities of the 1970s without ever being explicit about it: the kind of movie that gives weight to the received wisdom that moviegoers were crying out for the happy, superficially apolitical and altogether sexually wholesome escapism of Star Wars.