2020s

Soundtracks of Cinema: ‘Nightmare Alley’

Nightmare Alley Soundtrack - Every Song in the 2021 Movie

The Nightmare Alley soundtrack includes music by Tito Schipa, Glenn Miller and Hoagy Carmichael. This info article contains spoilers for Guillermo del Toro’s 2021 movie. Check out Vague Visages’ Soundtracks of Cinema section for more music guides.

Nightmare Alley stars Bradley Cooper as Stan Carlisle, a devious carny who squares off against karma. Cate Blanchett co-stars as Lilith Ritter, a manipulative psychologist who plots against a corrupt judge. The storyline explores Stan’s self-destructive behavior and self-reckoning. Composer Nathan Johnson (Knives Out) scored the 150-minute film, which includes several time-appropriate tracks. Here’s every song in Nightmare Alley, an adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel.

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Nightmare Alley Soundtrack: Every Song in the 2021 Movie

Nightmare Alley Soundtrack - Every Song in the 2021 Movie

  • “This Year’s Kisses” by Hildegard with Carroll Gibbons and His Boy Friends (00:15:00): Stan observes Molly at a carnival. He smokes a cigarette and spots Zeena (Toni Collette). The music continues as Stan sparks up a conversation.
  • “Where Was I” by Charlie Barnet & His Orchestra (00:19:00): The Nightmare Alley soundtrack song scores a carny sequence. Bruno (Ron Perlman) performs for a crowd. He leaves the stage because of knee issues.
  • “The Umbrella Man” by Kay Kyser and His Orchestra (00:23:00): Zeena speaks about using tricks for her act. Stan and Pete (David Strathairn) notice that she’s upset. The characters discuss the negative aspects of spook shows.
  • “Amapola” by Tito Schipa (00:46:00): Stan roams about at work. The Nightmare Alley soundtrack song plays as he observes Clem (Willem Dafoe) with a woman. The music fades as Stan pays for a beer.
  • “Little Brown Jug” by Glen Grey and the Casa Loma Orchestra (01:24:00): Molly (Rooney Mara) hangs out with Zeena, Bruno and The Major (Mark Povinelli). Stan enters his home with a rabbit. He asks Molly to order some food.
  • “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (01:25:00): Molly dances with The Major. Stan chats with Zeena. Bruno smokes a cigar.
  • “Amapola” by Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra featuring Bob Eberly, Helen O’Connell (02:17:00): A drunken and heavily bearded Stan visits with a carny boss (Tim Blake Nelson). The music plays as Cooper’s character spots one of Clem’s prized possessions, the jarred corpse of a child. The carny listens to the story of “Enoch” and likes the angle.
  • “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael (02:21:00): The Nightmare Alley soundtrack song scores the end credits.

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The Nightmare Alley soundtrack also includes:

  • “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” by George Leybourne and Gaston Lyle
  • “I Get the Blues” by Armetia “Bo Carter” Chapman
  • “Over There” by George M. Cohan
  • “In The Good Old Summertime” by Wurlitzer Pipe Band
  • “Snakeman Smiles” by George Doering
  • “Un Amour Sans Chagrin” by André Dassary
  • “Humoresques” by Antonín Dvořák
  • “Estudiantina Waltz” by Emile Waldteufel
  • “At the Woodchopper’s Ball” by Woody Herman & His Orchestra
  • “On the Beautiful Danube” by Wurlitzer Pipe Band
  • “Peacherine Rag” by Scott Joplin
  • “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by John Baptiste Calkin and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • “Officer of the Day” by Wurlitzer Pipe Band
  • “All of Me” by Count Basie and His Orchestra
  • “Cherokee” by Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra
  • “Stick Valves” by Louis Bilton
  • “Clarinet Sonata No.2 in E Flat Major, Op. 120” by Andrew Moses and Martin Leung
  • “Dance of the Blessed Spirits (Radio Edit)” by Christoph Willibald Gluck

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor and chief film critic.