A Day Called X is a dramatized Civil Defense documentary set in Portland, Oregon (“roughly the size of Hiroshima”), 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. The film opens with an overhead shot of then-mayor Terry Schrunk striding purposefully into the old underground Kelly Butte Civil Defense Center—a bunker-like structure built into a hillside. The film 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 shown in December 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 Schrunk.

The film was produced by CBS Public Affairs in conjunction with the Federal Civil Defense Administration.

On September 27, 1955, Portland actually conducted an exercise evacuation of downtown called “Operation Greenlight”, and the film is often misattributed to that year. Ford’s narration, however, does make direct reference to the 1955 exercise.

This print of the film came out of the estate of filmmaker Harry Rasky, and is one of the best we’ve seen. Rasky was born in Toronto into a Jewish family, where he completed studies at University College. He participated in CBC Television’s first four years writing and producing CBC Newsmagazine (1952-1955). He also produced a documentary for the 1961 debut evening of CTV Television Network. He earned more than 200 awards during his career in which his films numbered more than 400.

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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit

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