Studies of film noir have multiplied in recent years. The term has been around since about 1946, but was certainly not in use in Hollywood's heyday. When Dana Andrews was complimented on his performance in a "film noir," he responded, "What's a film noir?" Well, even if you think you know what a film noir is, I'd suggest you read William Luhr's new book. It is the most comprehensive and lucid study of the genre I have read. Discussions of major films are brilliant and concise. What I like best is the historical approach. Luhr carefully shows that "film noir" is a term that meant different things at different times. In order to demonstrate his point, he discusses contemporary films as well as classics. He describes neo-noir films and the difference between films that are of the period (1940s and 1950s) and those that take a retrospective point of view or are stylized period pieces. I was also impressed with Luhr's handling of the shift in Hollywood from the 1930s to 1940s. The morally compromised "heroes" of the 1940s were unthinkable in the 1930s. Like all good film critics, Luhr makes me want to see my favorite films again because he has shown me things I missed. And then there are all those films I didn't see that are now on my list because of William Luhr.