Point: Singer Judy Garland's POV:
From the "American Masters" PBS documentary "Judy Garland: By Myself" , she specifically trash talks Hugh Martin accusing him of wanting her to sing in her old MGM style:
Narrator: The heart and soul of 'A Star is Born' is found in the musical number acknowledged to be one of the greatest ever filmed
Director George Cukor: For that number, I wanted the camera to follow her, always in front, all in one take. It isn't easy for an actor or an actress to carry a long take. You have to be strong. I wanted to do it with Judy because she could sustain it.
Judy Garland: Hugh Martin wanted me to sing this in my MGM style. I told him, 'I can't sing in that voice anymore. Can't you see? I'm a woman now.'
According to random ppl on imdb, allegedly Hugh Martin stormed off the stage because of artistic differences and was replaced by Roger Edens:
Hugh Martin, who was hired as vocal arranger, stormed off the set after a row with Judy Garland over her interpretation of "The Man That Got Away". Garland's mentor and MGM vocal arranger Roger Edens replaced him.
Even tho Judy slammed Hugh, he still called her a genius in this documentary:
Narrator: Once again gripped by fear and self-doubt, Judy at times was immobilized and unable to perform.
Hugh Martin: She was terrified. She thought of this as her last chance to get in pictures. (laughs) This marvelous genius, terrified of not making it in a comeback.
Director George Cukor: I said to Judy, 'Why? You're so accomplished and you're so good. What the hell are you worried for?' She said, 'I'm always afraid that this is the time they're going to catch me.'
from the "Real to Real" documentary:
on the making of the biopic film on Jerome Kern "Till the Clouds Roll By" Richard Sherman of "Mary Poppins" fame concurs with Hugh Martin's assessment of Judy Garland's genius talent:
"Judy [Garland] was a great Marilyn Miller. I think she had the heart, and the sincerity.
Sherman then proceeds to express a seeming tautology:
You know, magical things happen when great performers performs. A lot of people sing words and music, but Judy sang the song. She sang the soul of the song.
Counter point: Song writer Hugh Martin POV:
On the dvd commentary for Astaire and Rogers film "Shall We Dance", Hugh Martin talks about his experience on "A Star is Born." He still insists that he thought Judy should have sung the song in what he describes as an "after hours voice" vs "MGM style".
Kevin Cole: There was rumors after these three Gershwin films this one [Shall We Dance], A Damsel in Distress, and The Goldwyn Follies that once [his brother] George Gershwin died that Ira was just going to retire and hang it up basically. He certainly didn't. Of course he missed George and there was nothing to fill the loss. But you know that is was 1940 [year the stage play premiered vs 1944 for the film] when Lady in the Dark came out. Hugh, when you worked on 'A Star is Born', did you meet Ira?
Hugh Martin: I did. They took me to his house and I heard the score there. And he didn't say a word all evening. I think he was depressed. He had depression certain nights and I, unfortunately, hit a night when he was very low.
Kevin Cole: To be around Ira Gershwin and Harold Arlen with that marvelous score.
Hugh Martin: I was lucky with Harold, he came to my apartment and sang the whole score....And when I returned from Hollywood, I called Harold and I told him that I had fought with Judy. And he said, 'Why?' And I said because she belted 'The Man that Got Away' and I didn't think it should be belted. And he said, 'You're absolutely right. It should not be, it should be contemplative...and should be very introverted, and low key, after hours kind of thing' So I felt vindicated that Harold thought I was right [or so he told you...snarky snark snark]
All the principles in "Shall We Dance" were deceased by the time the dvd commentary was recorded and it seems Mr Martin was chosen in a 6 degrees separation from Kevin Bacon logic. The Gershwins wrote the music for "Shall We Dance". Ira wrote lyrics for "A Star Is Born", and Mr Martin worked on a "A Star Is Born" with Ira.
Counter Counter Point: Production Assistant Gene Allen POV:
Glazier "begs the question", as lawyers would say, stuffing quite a bit of expository into his interrogatory, but the production assistant, Gene Allen, still manages to wander off script and not offer very many specific insights into Miss Garland's performance except that she made the camera grips' jobs challenging:
Richard Glazier: Talk a little bit about "The Man that Got Away" which is of course one of Judy's iconic numbers in her entire career and I understand that the scene was shot three different times with Judy wearing three different outfits and the camera work was done three completely different ways and the set design was even different...ah could you comment on that a little bit?
Gene Allen: Yeah, it was such a key moment that beautiful song ... pull those notes out, you've got a hit. And that's what it was. And it was so much fun to work on it. What Cukor wanted he always liked to do is something new when you've got somebody singing with an orchestra with instruments around. So in that he tried to have the movement always where it would do this [moves hands across screen] I would work with that where the camera is at any given moment and what trombone comes in and what goes around. So we worked that all out. And I always give credit to the grips with the camera dolly. They do two things: they move back and forth and the camera goes up and down. Well, to shoot a number like that with Judy and you never knew what she was going to do [raises arms above head] and suddenly you're in too close or back too far. So we had marks on the stage floor where we had rehearsal, all morning, no shots the first day. And then Judy does it differently...you don't...artists like that don't have a routine...some people know when you just do this I know where I am...with Judy [waves arms around] it was from the heart and soul of whatever she was doing but Cukor only wanted certain things in the film so when you look at the total thing it's sort of a ballet of Judy and the instruments.
How the song finally ended up in the film after all this Sturm und Drang Mishegas:
As a coda, it seems Norman Jewison was able to encourage Judy to sing in an understated manner and keep her acting in frame for her performance in "Judy, Frank, and Dean - The Legendary Concert" @22:40
In case the link breaks:
It's somewhat ironic that Jewison, director of "Fiddler on the Roof" opened the scene with a shot without either a roof or a ceiling.
And proving you can't please everyone: