Reading Time: 1 minutes

A 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 EOC during the time. It was filmed in September 1957 and aired December 8 of that year. 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: “Our problem,” said CBS Producer Harry Rasky, “was to take a dull subject and dramatize it.” Rasky’s subject: Civil Defense.

To inject it with drama, he had some 10,000 people in Portland, Ore., one of the U.S.’s 99 “critical targets,” go through the motions of mass evacuation on the day “enemy” aircraft approached from the Aleutians, The Day Called X. Rasky’s twelve-man technical crew, aided by publicity-eager federal Civil Defense experts and convoyed about the city by police motorcycle escort for three weeks, ably caught the mood of the day that began in an ordinary way. – Television Review December 16h 1957

   Today we could hope that the city takes the looming Mega Earthquake as seriously as it once did the threat of nuclear war.