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The term film noir, French for “black film”,[1] first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946, was unrecognized by most American film industry professionals of that era.[2] Cinema historians and critics defined the category retrospectively. Before the notion was widely adopted in the 1970s, many of the classic films noirs[a] were referred to as melodramas. Whether film noir qualifies as a distinct genre is a matter of ongoing debate among scholars.

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