FAIRFIELD — Fairfield resident Patrick Towne won an Achievement Award for Best Supporting Actor from the Iowa Motion Picture Association in 2019, and the web series he performed in is now streaming on Vimeo.
The production is a three-part series called “Unintended.” The series explores how society reacted to unintended pregnancies a century ago. The first part of the series, in which Towne performs, is a fact-based historical drama centered on the life and death of a northeast Iowa woman named Myrtle Irish. Myrtle is a woman in her late teens who gets pregnant with her boyfriend in 1913, and though the boyfriend vows to marry her, Myrtle’s father refuses, fearing shame and scandal. He arranges for Myrtle to have an abortion performed by a family friend and former physician E.E. Birney, played by Towne, even though the procedure is illegal in Iowa. The woman dies from complications related to the abortion, forcing the family and the doctor to concoct a lie about the circumstances of her death, telling the coroner that she died of an appendicitis.
However, rumors being swirling in the town that the family has covered up the true cause of her death. A sheriff and coroner from a neighboring county get involved and exhume Myrtle’s body. After an autopsy, the local authorities learn the truth. They confront the woman’s family, and the father blames the whole thing on the doctor, who is then charged with murder. What happens to the doctor? Towne said he couldn’t reveal any more than that because it would spoil the series.
This first part in the series has been released, and the second and third parts are set for release on June 1 and July 1, respectively. The other parts also tell true stories about unintended pregnancies from the country’s past and how society reacted to them. Colleen Bradford Krantz, who created the series, said that she is not trying to push a political agenda. Instead, she invites viewers to draw their own conclusions from these stories. She even follows up by interviewing the descendants of the characters in the film to see what they knew about the incident and how it was viewed in the family.
Towne, who goes by Patrick Bosold locally, said Bradford Krantz found him by reaching out to his agent. She said she really liked Towne’s look for this role, and asked him to do it.
Bradford Krantz researched the life of the actual Myrtle Irish for this film, and tried to create as well as she could a historically accurate depiction of all the characters involved. Towne said his job was to get in the mind of E.E. Birney and what must have been weighing on his conscience. He said Birney carried out what he believed to be the family’s wishes.
“EE. Birney was a highly regarded country doctor who practiced medicine in rural Iowa for 50 years,” Towne said. “He was a good-hearted professional who loved his work and the people he served.”
Towne said he realizes the film touches on a controversial topic, and he thinks Bradford Krantz handles it very fairly.
“I felt Colleen was out to tell a story worth telling,” he said. “Her intention all along was to tell this story without any judgments in any directions. This [series] is not political in nature. It’s historical, and it happens to be about a difficult topic.”