Scanlon is paranoid and jittery, with foes on both sides of the law and troubles with his brother that make him suspect everyone -- which may be the reason he opens up with McQuigg once. The captain is his enemy, but at least Scanlon knows where he stands.
Eventually, a reporter (Robert Hutton), a new beat cop (William Talman) and -- of course -- a dame (Lizabeth Scott) become mixed up in the conflict as McQuigg and Scanlon move towards a final confrontation. Everyone plays their assigned roles smoothly, with Mitchum and Ryan standing out most of all.
Eventually his boss sends him upstate to help in the hunt for a murderer. He joins a group of vigilantes led by the victim's father, Walter Brent (Ward Bond), and is taken aback by Brent's bloodthirstiness. When the pair are stranded overnight at the home of blind Mary Malden (Ida Lupino), Wilson begins to see how far over the line his own brutality has taken him when it becomes clear Mary knows more about the murderer than it seems at first.
Again, Ryan does a fine job as a man barely clinging to the edge of civilization and his sanity. He sees the people he pursues as garbage and that allows him to do anything to them to get what he wants, covering himself with the badge that's all he has left, even if it doesn't mean anything to him anymore. Lupino adds some depth to a role heavily laden with retread dialogue and mawkish scenes. Ward Bond is also a surprise, moving aside from his usual genial nature to display hatred and rage better than you might think he could. Ground is not anything that would win awards and it lost money at the box office, but the fine performances of the three leads make it worth the effort of wading through some of the excess cheese of the second act.