Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)


Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)

Critics Consensus

Nick Moran's excellent portrait of an often forgotten pop legend is as eccentric and chaotic as its subject.



Total Count: 27


Audience Score

User Ratings: 556
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Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story) Photos

Movie Info

Adapted from Nick Moran and James Hicks' critically-lauded stage play, Telstar tells the remarkable tale of eccentric, London-based songwriter/producer Joe Meek (Con O'Neill), whose innovative recording techniques ushered in a bold new era of rock 'n' roll in the late 1950s. Tone deaf and musically illiterate, Meek nevertheless had a lifelong obsession with music and a knack for producing. Though Meek's tireless work ethic ensured a tumultuous relationship with his band, his ramshackle, apartment recording studio provided just enough space to record, and experiment with such cutting-edge techniques as sampling and distortion. Meanwhile, his landlady Mrs. Shenton does her best to put up with the racket, and his main backer Major Wilfred Banks (Kevin Spacey) provides the cash to produce such hits as "Be-Bop-A-Lula", " Johnny Remember Me", and, of course, "Telstar".

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Con O'Neill
as Joe Meek
Kevin Spacey
as Major Banks
Pam Ferris
as Violet Shenton
J.J. Feild
as Heinz Burt
James Corden
as Clem Cattini
Tom Burke
as Geoff Goddard
Ralf Little
as Chas Hodges
Sid Mitchell
as Patrick Pink
Mathew Baynton
as Ritchie Blackmore
Shaun Evans
as Billy Kuy
Callum Dixon
as John Leyton
Tom Harper
as Alan Caddy
Jon Lee
as Billy Fury
Nigel Harman
as Jess Conrad
Jimmy Carr
as Gentleman
Carl Barat
as Gene Vincent
Justin Hawkins
as Screaming Lord Sutch
Clem Cattini
as Chauffeur
Jess Conrad
as Larry Parnes
Chas Hodges
as Mr. Brolin
John Leyton
as Sir Edward
Joan Hodges
as Biddy Meek
John Hayter
as John Peel
Craig Vye
as Mitch Mitchell
Gary Whelan
as Detective
Liam Smith
as Desk Sergeant
Jake Arnott
as Board of Trade Man 1
Jon Ivay
as Board of Trade Man 2
Anthony Milner
as Board of Trade Officer
Rita Tushingham
as Essex Medium
Gareth Corke
as Accountant
Mike Sarne
as Front of House Manager
Alicia Davies
as Lady Victim
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Critic Reviews for Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (5)

  • Even if 'Telstar' can't quite get the measure of its fascinating material, its pluck and ambition prove infectious enough to outweigh its flaws.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • This is Meek's show, and as a wild and hostile central character (the bellowed phrase "F*** off" is never far from his lips) he is likely to fascinate and alienate in equal measure.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Nick Moran's film, based on the stage-play he wrote with James Hicks, is an eccentric, sometimes underpowered but always watchable story about the early-60s prehistory of pop culture.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • O'Neill's performance is spellbinding, with Moran commendably allowing the actor the necessary time and space on the screen to believably cast his darkness upon those around him.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 3/5
  • Fairly crackles with character and period flavor for its first 90 minutes but is let down by a repetitive and tiresomely maudlin final half-hour.

    Nov 6, 2008 | Full Review…

    Derek Elley

    Top Critic
  • You know, this isn't an unenjoyable movie and, if you are desperate to see a movie, it'll do, but it's never fully satisfying because it never fully decides what sort of film it wants to be.

    Aug 29, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Telstar (Telstar: The Joe Meek Story)

  • Feb 14, 2014
    This film has so much energy, helped in part by a towering central performance. Unmissable.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 13, 2013
    In "Telstar," Geoff Goddard(Tom Burke) gets a rude awakening to the music business in 1961 as Major Banks(Kevin Spacey) has little idea that he is a writer when he shows up to work at a chaotic music studio in London. Joe Meek(Con O'Neill) has more important things on his mind like the ambient sound in the bathroom. And then there is Mrs. Shenton(Pam Ferris), his landlady, who wants to know what the black spots in her ceiling are. Meek tells her that it is only rubber cement; so that's alright, then. With its cool period music, injections of visual panache and intriguing subject, "Telstar" clearly should have been better, but never truly escapes its stage origins, especially in an introductory scene that goes on forever. And the movie lacks any serious point of view, as Goddard comes and goes as he pleases. As far as Meek goes, the movie cannot make up its mind about him. On the one hand, we have somebody who had one, maybe two good ideas(if that), and apparently passed on every band who hit it big in the 60's. But then hindsight is always 20/20. After which, the movie tries to go in the completely opposite direction in the postscript by mentioning how much an innovator he was. So, which was it?
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2012
    A brilliant exploration of the British music scene in the early 60's and the revolutionary producer Joe Meek. O'Meill is fearless in the role and is the main reason to watch this but he is also supported by the cream of British talent...and Kevin Spacey! The film moves from comic fun to dark tragedy and it helps if you're familiar with the music or some of the great artists the actors are portraying but since this is an era I've always loved I thought the whole thing was great.
    David S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2010
    before the beatles hit it bigtime, there was joe meek, a passionate producer,working out of his home to make rock n roll, bad desisions,and financial problems crippled him,andhere we see him seeing telstar and numorious bands to sucess or failing to,con o neil is a exellent watch playing the man,some good moments, and 60s setting and where britain was at is exelent,love the way he dissmisses the beatles, and does not want to see a guy from wales{ tom jones pehaps} so this film cetainly says, he made some bad moves in his time
    scott g Super Reviewer

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