André Previn is one of the most interesting figures on the classical music scene, and this well-crafted television documentary on his career deserves to be preserved, in classrooms and public libraries if not in private collections. It is essentially an introduction to Previn's blockbuster opera A Streetcar Named Desire (based on the Tennessee Williams play), which is available on both CD and DVD recordings, and it will be most useful when played in tandem with the opera.
Besides scenes from the opera and the Williams drama, with occasional filmed comments by Williams himself, The Kindness of Strangers takes a look at Previn's biography: a jazz pianist and Hollywood soundtrack composer, often married and divorced, who successfully crossed over an almost unbridgeable gap to become a respected conductor with the world's most important symphony orchestras. He is shown composing, rehearsing, teaching young conductors, and even (though not often) enjoying moments of relaxation. --Joe McLellan