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Burke is the main villain of the 1981 thriller, Blow Out.

He was played by John Lithgow, who also portrayed Earl Talbot Blake in Ricochet, Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth DimensionEric Qualen in CliffhangerLord Farquaad in Shrek, Jean-Claude in Rugrats in ParisArthur Mitchell in Dexter and Lamar Blackburn in The Accountant.

Burke is hired by a presidential candidate to take unflattering photos of rival candidate George McRyan with an escort named Sally. However, Burke decides to alter the plan and kill both McRyan and Sally by causing their car to crash into a lake. McRyan is killed, but Sally survives. Over the half-hearted objections of his client, Burke plans to kill Sally, and make it look like the work of a serial killer by first murdering several other young women who resemble her. He kills several women by strangling them with piano wire, earning him the nickname the Liberty Bell Strangler.

Sound technician Jack Terry, who inadvertently recorded McRyan's assassnation, decides to investigate the murders, and asks for Sally's help. Eventually Jack gathers evidence of the assassination attempt, having Sally wear a hidden microphone and getting her to meet a media contact. Howeer, the "contact" turns out to be none other than Burke.

Upon realizing that Sally is in danger, Jack tries to tell her what is going on, but Sally and Burke get out of range and into the Liberty Day Parade. Jack drives across the city to try and rescue Sally from Burke, but he crashes his car and gets knocked unconcious. When Jack regains conciousness, Burke has already taken Sally to a rooftop, where he begins to strangle her.

Jack listens to this attack on his earpiece from the hidden microphone Sally is wearing and finds them. Hearing Sally screaming, Jack runs to the top of the roof to save her, but he is too late; she is already dead. While Jack gets to the top, Burke marks Sally's corpse with his knife, as he does with all of his victims. Jack surprises Burke and manages to overpower him and stab him to death with his own weapon.

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