Alan Bennett and Nicholas Hytner‘s The History Boys having won six Tony Awards last Sunday night, including one for Best Play, seems to suggest that Hytner’s film version, which Fox Searchlight will bring out in the fall, has instant credibility as a year-end Oscar contender. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. And I’m saying this, frankly, because of the older- man’s-hands-on-schoolboy-genitals factor. (Sorry, but I didn’t write the play.) I was lucky enough to see The History Boys in early May before going to Cannes Film Festival, and there’s no question that it’s a brilliant and impassioned tribute to the glories of inspired teaching, of passing along those things that truly matter in life. In the film, Richard Griffiths (best known as Harry Potter‘s mean-spirited Uncle Vernon) will repeat his Tony-winning stage performance as an eccentric history instructor in an English boys’ school who’s expected to prepare them as best he can for university entrance exams, but is forced to leave his post when the school’s headmaster learns about his erotic fondling of some of the students. There’s a longstanding homoerotic tradition in dramas about English schoolboys and boarding schools (reflections of this were in Lindsay Anderson‘s If) and it’s certainly no big deal to X-factor types, but I’m asking myself a question. If a Catholic priest takes liberties with a choirboy, it’s venal and deplorable. But if a history instructor fondles the balls of a young student while they ride on a motorcycle, it’s not that big a deal. I’m not trying to be a smartass, but the idea seems to be if you’re broadening the student’s mind with profound teachings (as Griffith’s History character certainly is), copping a discreet feel is a forgivable impulse/indulgence, but it’s a different story if you’re a priest passing along repressive Catholic dogma.