Both movies feature a pair of men, one more manly, and one very effeminate, that are actors together. In both, they start out poor, but climb the social ladder by performing for the high society. They achieve this mostly through the unusual charm of the effeminate character, who is torn between his ambiguous relationship with the other male lead, and the advances he receives from rich and powerful men. Although they are very different eras (and countries!), both take place in difficult political contexts in which the characters become entangled, but that their theatre plays reenact metaphorically. Both characters cross-dress and play woman characters on stage. However, The King and the Clown is more comical, whereas Farewell My Concubine is more thoughtful, artistic and tragic.