NBFF Recommendations of the Day: Don't Quit: The Joe Roth Story; Mary Poppins; SlingShot

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Joe Roth was a Heisman Trophy favorite in 1976. He died shortly after that season ended.

The love family, coaches and teammates have for a quarterback who died of cancer three months after his last game for the Cal Golden Bears is apparent in Don't Quit: The Joe Roth Story. That love will be on display this afternoon when several talking heads from Bob Rider and Phil Schaaf's documentary--including Roth's coach Mike White of Balboa Island--are expected at the Newport Beach Film Festival screening at the Lido.

That Roth had suffered from melanoma was no secret. He had come to Berkeley from a community college as a cancer survivor, which made him the reluctant subject of several newspaper and television stories, included one hosted by the former voice of college football on ABC, Keith Jackson, who also narrates this movie.

But Roth wanted to be known for what he did on the field, and it was something special indeed as he went from non-starter when the 1975 season began to leading the Golden Bears to the Pac-8 co-championship. Among those seen raving about Roth (besides Mike White) are Steve Bartkowski, Tony Dungy, Vince Ferragamo, Chuck Muncie, Barry Switzer and Dick Vermeil.

Big things were expected in '76 from Roth, who was thought to be cancer-free. Events from that disappointing season would prove otherwise. And yet, Roth never let anyone know what he was going through during the season. Even when his cancer was known and he was bedridden shortly thereafter, he'd ask visitors how they were feeling, without giving an indication he was dying.

There are some repetitive moments near the end of the film that should be trimmed, and I never thought I'd say this but I got sick of hearing Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star." As much as I loved hearing the now-retired Keith Jackson call football games, his broadcaster voice sounds out of place here.

But don't let those minor knocks keep you away from Joe Roth's remarkable story. It could just be the Trojan fan in me talking. (2 p.m. at the Regency Lido in Newport Beach.)

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