The story goes that it was Barbra Streisand who started it off ... Someone remarked to her at a party that she ought to look for an intelligent, demanding role, and suggested The White Hotel ... Bernardo Bertolucci told me, years later, Streisand had invited him to her Hollywood mansion to discuss the film over dinner. Gold dinner service - butler - the works. She said, `Bernardo, there's just one thing bothering me: how are we going to deal with all the sex?' `Well, Barbra, I have this idea for glass fibre optics to enter the woman's vagina.' A moment's silence, the: `Let me show you the house.' And she never spoke of The White Hotel to him again.
Chronicling the futile and relentless attempt to translate his iconic novel, The White Hotel (1981) into a Hollywood movie, Bleak Hotel is a gripping story of frustration, hope and ultimately, of indifference to both the machinations of the film industry, and the legal maelstrom that surrounds it. More big names have been attached to the making of this non-movie than any glittering, cameo-littered outing in Hollywood's history, from its greatest producers and directors to Hollywood's brightest stars and starlets and still the film remains in the imagination. His account is interwoven with colourful and moving tales of his personal life, involving tangled love relationships and the pain of bereavement.