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Telstar

 (314)
1 h 54 min200915
A music-infused drama about Joe Meek, the flamboyantly gay, tone deaf, songwriter-producer behind the '60s hits "Have I the Right," "Just Like Eddie," "Johnny, Remember Me" and "Telstar."
Directors
Nick Moran
Starring
Con O'NeillKevin SpaceyPam Ferris
Genres
DramaArts, Entertainment, and Culture
Subtitles
None Available
Audio Languages
English

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More details

Supporting actors
JJ FeildJames CordenTom Burke
Producers
Simon JordanDavid ReidAdam Bohling
Studio
Aspiration Films
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Other formats

Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

314 global ratings

  1. 71% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 6% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 7% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

A R NieldReviewed in the United Kingdom on 09 October 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Welcome to the wacky world of Joe Meek
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Very strong film both dramatically and in terms of music and social history. Joe was a fascinating character but like so many talented gay men - George Michael and Alexander McQueen spring to mind - he remained lonely and unhappy. His genius attracted talent and many of his proteges would go on to have big careers included Richie Blackmore and Chas Hodges of Chas n' Dave fame. Fabulous performances from lead actor Con O'Neill and great support from Ralf Little as Chas and JJ Field as the annoying Heinz (JJ Field is so like Jude Law he could be his twin). James Cordon is also strong as session drummer extraordinaire Clem Cattini. My favourite cameo was Tom Burke as songwriter Geoff Goddard a man who penned numerous hits before withdrawing from the music industry and working the rest of his life as a canteen assistant at Reading University! The last 25 minutes which focuses on Meek's decline and fall is hard to watch but is well done. So if you like music, or social history or just good drama you must watch this film.
3 people found this helpful
AndyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 July 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Utter rubbish
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Don't buy this unless you believe Beavis & Butthead to be the height of sophistication. I'd seen reviews of this that were quite favourable, but it is truly appalling. It is played as a complete cartoon. For all I know it may have ended up as a finely played piece of drama, but I couldn't get beyond the first ten minutes. No feeling for the characters, just a bunch of blokes playing in the early '60s dressing up box.

And even more annoying - I had to sit through nearly 10 minutes of trailers and ads that I couldn't skip before this rubbish started.

(no complaints with the seller or the service - but this movie is a waste of time)
One person found this helpful
Go For ItReviewed in the United Kingdom on 06 December 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Disappointing and depressing
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I expected to hear all the marvellous music recorded in the unconventional surroundings Joe Meek created and the story of his label's creation. Instead the focus was on Joe Meek's failings as a person and as a producer and the sordid end he came to. However, it was an interesting film and if you don't object to the focus being on all the negatives then you may enjoy it. It is shameful that the artists he recorded were never paid.
Katy StewartReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 March 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Highly recommended
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This is a fabulous story of a flawed genius - Joe Meek. It gives an overview of an innocent time of post war youthful expression and an insight into Joe Meeks' genius. What he did to produce the sounds that he did in the cramped confines of a small flat over a shop is nothing short of that. Apparently, according to a recent record producer's comment, the Telstar sound still cannot be reproduced even with all the modern digital equipment available nowadays. Con O'Neill (as Joe Meek) gives a stunning performance and we see Meeks' decline from creative brilliance into the depths of paranoia as he deals with his homosexuality (a social taboo at the time) and his drug intake - albeit 'slimming pills' which were nothing more than legalised speed. Additionally, he was sued by a French composer who claimed he had plageurised Telstar from Austerlitz (and they do sound uncannily similar) so did not receive any royalties from Telstar (in his lifetime) despite it being number one here and in America. The whole thing ended with the violent death of his landlady, who had been nothing but kind to him.
As well as Con O'Neill there are great performances from Pam Ferris (Violet Shenton, his landlady), J. J. Field (Heinz Burt), James Corden (Clem Cattini) and Kevin Spacey (Major Wilfred), Tom Burke (Geoff Goddard), Ralf Little (Chas Hodges) and a whole host of other stars. A film well worth watching, especially if you are into music.
3 people found this helpful
Mr. A. R. JeffReviewed in the United Kingdom on 01 October 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
Different, difficult but worth staying with to the end....
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This is a very quirky film; whether you like it or not, really depends on the mood you are in. In my view it's worth seeing twice before you make up your mind. It did very badly at the box office, which is (in my opinion) more to do with the sophistication and open-mindedness of the British audience, rather than the film itself. It would have been more suited to perhaps a French or Italian audience - as the British audience is not so much into Arty niche films as hard reality or fantasy. The lead role is superbly played by Con O' Neill, who portrays this unbalanced and complex genius with great skill and imagination. Despite the criticism of his Gloucester accent (one critic described it as Welsh like Rob Bryden), I can tell you that it is very authentic. I spend a lot of time in Gloucester and he sounds spot on. It's a subtle accent to emulate and it is a great achievement to hold onto it throughout the film. The manic scenes are funny, and the tragic scenes are very moving. The final scenes are as good a tragic end as I have ever seen. Perhaps one day this film will get the cult following it deserves - but there will need to be some expansion of the average cinema-goer's mind to make this happen.
3 people found this helpful
Mr. M. W. LLOYDReviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 April 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
The story of a pop legend
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Joe Meek was a charismatic figure, and one who never fitted in to the world of pop music. He was the first independent record producer, leasing recordings to major labels, but he was primarily an electronics man, often designing and building his own "black boxes" which he used to change the sounds made by his recording artistes. He was fanatical about sound, but sadly was tone-deaf and found great difficulty getting ghis ideas from his head to his musicians. He was also a homosexual at a time when this was illegal in the UK, and at best semi-literate. He was no businessman and was taken advantage of by those who were. This makes for a fiendishly complex individual who overcame his problems to make some of the finest pop records of his time or, indeed, ever, but who finally "lost the plot" and took his own life.

This DVD is based on a stage play of Joe's life. The stage play was reasonably, but certainly not entirely, accurate, and the film slipped further from accuracy. Afficiandos can point to numerous things portrayed here which are distorted or simply didn't happen at all, and some music is attributed to groups and individuals other than those who actually recorded it. However, the film is not, and was not intended to be, a documentary. Rather, it is a dramatic portrayal of the life of a man who was truly a one-off, who was loved and hated in equal measure, who was unable to find his true place in the world and was, in all probability, suffering some mental illness towards the end of his days.

It is moving and at times a little uncomfortable, but it does give an insight into the man who gave us "Telstar" (and even Mrs Thatcher admitted to liking that!) and some of the musicians he worked with. Unfortunately, some of the others are shown either inaccurately, or completely unfairly, and here one cannot but complain at the way songwriter Geoff Goddard, who was responsible for so many great Joe Meek records, is depicted as almost a moron or an imbecile, which he most certainly was not. It also gives those who don't know Joe's work a taster of some of his other productions. Joe's 'RGM Sound' recordings were instantly recognisable then and still are now, and he paved the way for electronic music, independent producers and many other things we take for granted today. This film is well worth watching, and with luck will make you want to follow up what he did and discover a world of music that is often forgotten these days.
3 people found this helpful
Alison PetrieReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 October 2009
5.0 out of 5 stars
Superb!
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I had wanted to see this film at the cinema but it came and went before I had a chance - interesting to read other reviews where they state that they had watched the film in a sparsely populated cinema. Found this sad because this film deserved a better distribution as it is well worth seeing. Con O'Neill is absolutely superb, capturing the genius, madness and torment that made up Joe Meek, and I feel that his performance is worthy, at the very least, of an Oscar nomination. The supporting cast is also very strong but this is definitely O'Neill's show.

In these days of high technology, to see how Meek put his records together is nothing short of mindblowing bizarreness, the process taking place over a handbag shop in the Holloway Road. How Meek managed to put this all together is quite beyond me and, in modern times where it often appears that a product is put together as opposed to the music ("X Factor" springs to mind), current producers would do well to view this film.

It's a British film with a British cast (apart from Kevin Spacey as the Major) and tells the story of someone who played a big part in the history of 60s music, someone who perhaps has been overlooked in the past.
5 people found this helpful
originalisaReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 October 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Joe Meek: amazingly talented but a wickedly troubled life.
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Con O'Neill plays a masterfully convincing Joe Meek. Joe Meek was one of the most enigmatic and successful record producers of the early 1960s, working from the rooms in his three-floor flat above a leather-goods store in London. He produced the likes of John Leyton (Johnny Remember Me) and many others. Brian Epstein contacted him in his search for someone to produce the Beatles and sent Joe Meek a demo tape which he listened to but turned down, probably his biggest mistake. Joe Meek was gay in a time when it was illegal and he struggled as a result, having to keep his sexuality under wraps. He came to a disturbing and tragic end when on 3 February 1967 he first killed his landlady Violet Shenton and then himself using a shotgun he took from one of his stars Heinz Burt (who recorded 'Just Like Eddie').
2 people found this helpful
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