The Day Called 'X'

The Day Called 'X' is a dramatized CBS documentary film set in Portland, Oregon, in which the entire city is evacuated in anticipation of a nuclear air raid, after Soviet bombers had been detected by radar stations to the north; it details the activation of the city's civil defense protocols and leads up to the moment before the attack (the ending is left intentionally unknown). The operations were run from the Kelly Butte Bunker, which was the emergency operations center at that time. It was filmed in September 1957[1] and aired December 8 of that year.[2][3] Apart from presenter/narrator Glenn Ford, none of the people shown are actors. They are locals of Portland shown in their real jobs, including Mayor Terry Schrunk.

The Day Called 'X'
A Day Called X title card.png
Title card
Written byLester Cooper
Harry Rasky
Directed byHarry Rasky
Narrated byGlenn Ford
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducerHarry Rasky
CinematographyFrederick Dietrich
EditorBernard Birnbaum
Running time30 minutes
Production companiesCBS Public Affairs, in co-operation with the Federal Civil Defense Administration
Original networkCBS
Original release
  • December 8, 1957 (1957-12-08)

Its local re-broadcast in 2004[4] and appearance in the on-line Prelinger Archives attracted interest among local history buffs due to its extensive outside shots of the city, and the use of non-actor participants (local officials and broadcasters). Whenever one of these individuals is heard uttering warnings or statements regarding attack, the words "AN ATTACK IS NOT TAKING PLACE" are superimposed over the picture.[2]

On September 27, 1955, Portland actually conducted an exercise evacuation of downtown called "Operation Greenlight",[5][6] and the film is often misattributed to that year. Ford's narration, however, does make direct reference to the 1955 exercise.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "IATSE Bulletin". IATSE District One History. December 1957.
  2. ^ a b "Television: Review". TIME Magazine. December 16, 1957. Archived from the original on November 21, 2007.
  3. ^ "Review". Chicago Daily Tribune. December 8, 1957. p. NW16.
  4. ^ pdxradio Message Board Archived July 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Portland Historical Timeline: 1952 to 2001". Portland Auditor's Office. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  6. ^ "1955 Operation Greenlight civil defense evacuation". Portland Auditor's Office. Retrieved August 13, 2009.

External linksEdit