NEW YORK, APRIL 6 -- Dueling domestics, surreptitiously taped phone calls -- things are heating up in the ongoing legal battle for three kids named Farrow.

Now that the protagonists and the psychologists have left the stand, Woody Allen's lawyers have begun to question the women who for years helped Mia Farrow raise her brood in her apartment on Central Park West.

They were an impressively confident but mutually contradictory pair of witnesses: Monday, the nanny, who was coolly disdainful of Farrow's parenting but admitted that she'd lied to Connecticut police investigators about it. Today, the housekeeper, a staunch Farrow loyalist who denied saying anything disparaging about her employer during a phone call from Allen -- and who will be back in court Thursday to hear the audio tape that Allen secretly made of that call. Farrow's startled attorney told reporters she had no idea that Allen had recorded the conversation.

If you believe nanny Monica Thompson, hired in 1985 when Dylan was just 2 months old, the household "was more like a foster home ... with all these kids." She testified that Farrow favored her biological children, loading up the adopted ones with chores, and once slapped Moses across the face when she thought he'd lost a dog's leash. "I think she needs to spend more time with her children," Thompson declared.

She also recounted a conversation in the kitchen last summer with Satchel, then 4. "Satchel said to me, 'Monica, do you believe in God?' I said, 'Yes, do you?' He said yes. Then he said, 'Mommy says Daddy's the Devil. I'm not so sure about that.' " Satchel is Farrow and Allen's biological son. Dylan and Moses, the others whose custody is being contested, were adopted by Farrow and then by Allen.

But Thompson acknowledged that she'd been untruthful during questioning by the Connecticut authorities investigating last summer's child abuse allegations. "They asked me if Miss Farrow was a good mother and I said yes, which I really didn't mean," Thompson said. "I knew that if I said no, I would lose my job." She was well compensated for a nanny, even one on Central Park West; Allen paid her $34,000-a-year salary. Thompson also told the authorities she'd spent her August vacation in Jamaica when in fact she'd been in New York meeting with Allen's private eyes.

She left the Farrow household in January without saying goodbye to Dylan or Satchel when she was served with a subpoena by Farrow's attorney.

Mavis Smith, housekeeper for the Farrow clan for 13 years, told a different story: that Farrow is "a wonderful mother" and that her children, all of them, were wonderful too. Elkan Abramowitz, Allen's attorney, read a long list of criticisms that she was alleged to have made to Allen when he phoned her last August; she calmly denied making a single one. "All these things are lies," she insisted more than once. "I don't know where Mr. Allen got this story, but it's not from me."

She never said that Farrow had too many children to pay attention to, that the hired help had raised the family, that Farrow had temper tantrums? Smith, whose $29,000 salary was paid by Farrow, stared the former prosecutor down. "I don't know what {Allen's} doing or who's doing this to me, but I never said these things." When she was finished testifying, the housekeeper and Farrow embraced, Farrow patting her arm comfortingly.

But Abramowitz told reporters that Allen had taped the call without Smith's knowledge -- not illegal in New York state -- and that he's ready to play the tape Thursday. Eleanor Alter, Farrow's attorney, believes "she's telling the truth as she knows it; I don't think Mavis would knowingly lie." Alter charged that the transcript of the call also shows Allen "trying to buy her testimony" with the promise of future jobs.

Earlier in the trial, now expected to grind on for another week and a half, a single therapist could testify for three painstaking days. Now, witnesses are hopping on and off the stand with dispatch.

Two social workers who supervise Allen's two-hour visits with Satchel confirmed part of what Allen (who pays them too) has said about the boy becoming alienated. "He typically would enter the apartment and say, 'I want to go home' or 'I don't want to be here,' " testified Frances Greenberg.

But both supervisors recalled the child joining in a kind of top-this game with his father, Allen saying, "I love you as much as the stars," and Satchel replying, "I love you as much as the universe."

On another track, Allen's attorneys brought in a retired police lieutenant who once ran the police department's Manhattan sex crimes unit.

Richard Marcus got paid nearly as much as one of the therapists ($150 an hour) to view the videotape that Farrow made last August of Dylan's account of being molested by Allen. He found it unpersuasive. The mother's questions are "leading" or "smack of prompting," and the child "lacked credibility" because of her inconsistencies, Marcus concluded. "The manner in which the questions were asked, the statements that were elicited, did not convince me that an incident had taken place." That didn't mean, he told the judge, that the incident hadn't taken place.

Another in this week's quickening parade of witnesses was Jane Read Martin, an imperious blond woman in head-to-toe black who for six years served as Allen's personal assistant. Martin's function on the job was to be "with him at all times," even accompanying Allen when he went to Farrow's apartment to visit his children for a few hours, and on trips walking him to his hotel room door at night. Martin's function in court was to praise Allen's parental devotion and trash Farrow, both of which she enthusiastically did. Farrow forced her adopted daughter Lark to baby-sit, cook and clean "like a little scullery maid" and schlep strollers and diaper bags "like a pack horse," Martin recalled, to which, she said, Lark responded with resentful complaints and "an unpleasant hand gesture" when her mother left the room.