Mary Wickes, character actor extraordinaire, adds her genius to the roles of Nurse Preen in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) and Emma in White Christmas (1954).
The Man Who Came to Dinner is rapidly becoming one of my top 5 Christmas films. Hilarious story, Bette Davis and Monty Woolley, penguins and an octopus - what's not to love? But Mary Wickes as poor, put-upon Nurse Preen is the whipped cream on top. This was her first major film role and it set the stage (fortunately or unfortunately) for her on-screen persona throughout her career. I love her gangly physicality and droll delivery. Especially when being chased by penguins or insulted by the great Sheridan Whiteside.
And who taught us to steam open envelopes? Why, that nosey old biddie Emma Allen in White Christmas! Who needs an ex-general at the inn when you have Emma to run things? She's a lovable, sarcastic, gossip - and she works a pretty good kiss in there, too.
So for brightening up a couple of my holiday favorites, Mary Christmas, Mary Wickes.